The microclimate mapping challenge

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Organisms experience climate at a small scale, where the topography and the vegetation cause microclimates that vary greatly in space and time. The difference in temperature between north and south facing slopes of a mole hill on a hot summer’s day in Europe, for example, is comparable to the temperature difference between the Mediterranean and Scotland. Microclimates are often neglected in ecology and evolution, despite mounting evidence that microclimates matter for ecosystem dynamics and processes, such as the response of organisms to climate change. A key impediment has been the lack of spatial data to map microclimatic variation over large spatial scales and over time. Remote sensing is now offering opportunities to lift this technical barrier, by producing detailed and spatially continuous data-layers that can be used as explanatory variables to model microclimatic conditions over large spatial and temporal scales. We reviewed how these emerging technologies are advancing microclimate modelling and mapping, and highlight some of the opportunities they provide for ecology, conservation and climate change research.

Link to paper

 

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