Journal article Open Access

Data, time, change and land-system dynamics

Aspinall, R.J.; Staiano, M.; Pearson, D.M.

Time-related information in land-change studies is reviewed using case studies in JLUS and LAND. An explicit focus on time has potential for exploring process-based perspectives. We report how time is represented and patterns in pre-analytical choices are detected, identifying practices to enhance the relevance and impact of land-change studies. Results show 40% of the studies use two datasets; the modal timespan and interval between datasets are 10 years; 79% are durations up to 30 years; 73% are changes since 1972. Modal start dates are 1990 and 2000. Dates ending in 0 and 5 are over-represented and lack explicit justification. The prevalence of a ‘two-date approach’ restricts measuring and analyzing change, identifying temporal non-stationarity is precluded, and modelling change pathways and responses to underlying system dynamics are limited. An improved focus on time in dataset choice to developimproved understanding of dynamics and change offers broader insights into land-system functions.

RA acknowledges financial support from the University of Naples for collaboration with the STAD group based at the University of Naples Federico II. MS acknowledges financial support from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 689669. DP and RA acknowledge financial support from the Massey University International Visitor Research Fund. This work reflects the authors' views only: the funding agencies are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained. We thank the two anonymous referees for their constructive feedback and comments.
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