Olson's Major World Ecosystem Complexes Ranked by Carbon in Live Vegetation is a computerized database, used to generate a global vegetation map of 44 different land ecosystem complexes (mosaics of vegetation or landscapes) comprising seven broad groups. The map is derived from patterns of preagricultural vegetation, modern areal surveys, and intensive biomass data from research sites. Work on the database was begun in 1960 and completed in 1980.
Ecosystem complexes are defined for each 0.5-degree grid cell, reflecting the major climatic, topographic, and land-use patterns. Numeric codes are assigned to each vegetation type. Classifications include natural as well as human managed/modified complexes such as mainly cropped, residential, commercial, and park. The complexes are ranked by estimated organic carbon in the mass of live plants given in units of kilograms of carbon per square meter. Counting the cells of each type and adding their areas give total area estimates for the ecosystem complexes. Multiplying by carbon estimates gives corresponding estimates of global carbon by ecosystem complex. The results help define the role of the terrestrial biosphere in the global carbon cycle.
Information about the ecosystem classifications, as well as the procedure used to create the southern African subset can be found at: http://daac.ornl.gov/daacdata/safari2k/vegetation_wetlands/olson/comp/olson_README.pdf .
Cite this data set as follows:
Olson, J. S., J. A. Watts, and L. J. Allison. 2002. SAFARI 2000 Carbon in Live Vegetation, 0.5-Deg (Olson). Data set. Available on-line [http://www.daac.ornl.gov] from Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distributed Active Archive Center, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A. doi:10.3334/ORNLDAAC/633.
Information about the data format, ecosystem classification, and the procedure used to create the southern African subset are in the following file: http://daac.ornl.gov/daacdata/safari2k/vegetation_wetlands/olson/comp/olson_README.pdf .