Modelling the soil microclimate: does the spatial or temporal resolution of input parameters matter?
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Modelling the soil microclimate: does the spatial or temporal resolution of input parameters matter?

  • Author(s): Carter, Anna
  • Kearney, Michael
  • Mitchell, Nicola
  • Hartley, Stephen
  • Porter, Warren
  • Nelson, Nicola
  • et al.
Abstract

The urgency of predicting future impacts of environmental change on vulnerable populations is advancing the development of spatially explicit habitat models. Continental-scale climate and microclimate layers are now widely available. However, most terrestrial organisms exist within microclimate spaces that are very small, relative to the spatial resolution of those layers. We examined the effects of multi-resolution, multi-extent topographic and climate inputs on the accuracy of hourly soil temperature predictions for a small island generated at a very high spatial resolution (<1 m2) using the mechanistic microclimate model in NicheMapR. Achieving an accuracy comparable to lower-resolution, continental-scale microclimate layers (within about 2–3°C of observed values) required the use of daily weather data as well as high resolution topographic layers (elevation, slope, aspect, horizon angles), while inclusion of site-specific soil properties did not markedly improve predictions. Our results suggest that large-extent microclimate layers may not provide accurate estimates of microclimate conditions when the spatial extent of a habitat or other area of interest is similar to or smaller than the spatial resolution of the layers themselves. Thus, effort in sourcing model inputs should be focused on obtaining high resolution terrain data, e.g., via LiDAR or photogrammetry, and local weather information rather than in situ sampling of microclimate characteristics.

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