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Historical (1901-1920), contemporary (1979-2013), and future (2061-2080) terrestrial life zones


Elsen, Paul R. et al. (2021), Historical (1901-1920), contemporary (1979-2013), and future (2061-2080) terrestrial life zones, Dryad, Dataset,


Datasets depicting historical (1901-1920), contemporary (1979-2013), and future (2061-2080) life zones as global rasters at 30 arc-second resolution in GeoTiff format are included, which were produced for the study "Accelerated shifts in terrestrial life zones under rapid climate change", published in Global Change Biology by Elsen et al. Life zones are determined by distinct combinations of biotemperature and precipitation and represent broad-scale ecosystem types (sensu Holdridge[1]). For the future period, life zone maps were produced using five general circulation models (GCMs: CESM1-BGC, MPI-ESM-MR, ACCESS1-3, MIROC5, and CMCC-CM), each under two representative concentration pathways (RCPs: RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). An ensemble mean across all five GCMs is also included for each RCP. All input datasets are publicly available and, along with the complete methodology, are described in Elsen et al.

[1] Holdridge, LR (1947) Determination of world plant formations from simple climatic data. Science, 105, 367–368.


The datasets were processed using R and Google Earth Engine following the methodology described in Elsen et al.

Usage notes

Data values in rasters represent two-digit life zones. See Table 1 in the README for file names and descriptions. See Table 2 in the README for life zone descriptions.


University of Queensland, Award: Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science

Wildlife Conservation Society

Forest Inform Pty Ltd