The HYDE 3.1 spatially explicit database of human-induced global land-use change over the past 12,000 years

10-09-2010 | Publication

This paper presents a tool for long term global change studies; it is an update of the History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE) with estimates of some of the underlying demographic and agricultural driving factors. The estimated cropland and pasture areas are fully consistent and cover the period 10,000 B.C. to 2,000 A.D. on a 5 minute longitude/latitude grid resolution.

Results indicate that cropland occupied roughly less then 1% of the global ice-free land area for a long time period until 1000 A.D., quite similar like the area used for pasture. In the centuries that followed the share of global cropland area increased to 11% in 2000 A.D. while the share of pasture area grew to 24%. These profound land use changes have had, and will continue to have quite considerable consequences for the global carbon cycle and subsequently global climate change. While there are many uncertainties and gaps in our knowledge about the importance of land use (change) in the global carbon cycle, we hope that this database can help modelers to close parts of this gap.