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The Vegetation/Ecosystem Modeling and Analysis Project (VEMAP) was a multi-institutional, international effort that addressed the response of biogeography and biogeochemistry to environmental variability in climate and other drivers in both space and time domains. The objectives of VEMAP were to study the intercomparison of biogeochemistry models and vegetationtype distribution models (biogeography models) and determine their sensitivity to changing climate, elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations, and other sources of altered forcing.

The vegetation data set includes one variable: vegetation type. Vegetation types are defined physiognomically in terms of dominant lifeform and leaf characteristics (including leaf seasonal duration, shape, and size) and, in the case of grasslands, physiologically with respect to dominance of species with the C3 versus C4 photosynthetic pathway. The physiognomic classification criteria are based on our understanding of vegetation characteristics that influence biogeochemical dynamics (Running et al. 1994). The U.S. distribution of these types is based on a 0.5 degree latitude/longitude gridded map of Kuchler's (1964, 1975) potential natural vegetation provided by the TEM group (D. Kicklighter and A. D. McGuire, personal communication). Kuchler's map is based on current vegetation and historical information and, for purposes of VEMAP Phase I model experiments, is presumed to represent potential vegetation under current climate and atmospheric CO2 concentrations (355 ppm).

A complete user's guide to the VEMAP Phase 1 database, which includes more information about this data set, can be found at /data/vemap-1/comp/Phase_1_User_Guide.pdf.

The ORNL DAAC maintains additional information associated with the VEMAP Project.

Data Citation:

Cite this data set as follows (data citation revised on July 18, 2002):

Kittel, T. G. F., N. A. Rosenbloom, T. H. Painter, D. S. Schimel, H. H. Fisher, A. Grimsdell, VEMAP Participants, C. Daly, and E. R. Hunt, Jr. 1998. VEMAP 1: U.S. Potential Natural Vegetation. ORNL DAAC, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA.


Kittel, T. G. F., N. A. Rosenbloom, T. H. Painter, D. S. Schimel, and VEMAP Modeling Participants. 1995. The VEMAP integrated database for modeling United States ecosystem/vegetation sensitivity to climate change. Journal of Biogeography 22:857-862.

Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to Accompany the Map, Potential Natural Vegetation of the Conterminous United States. Spec. Pub. No. 36. American Geographical Society, New York.

Kuchler, A. W. 1975. Potential Natural Vegetation of the Conterminous United States, 2nd ed. Map 1:3,168,000. American Geographical Society, New York.

Running, S. W., T. R. Loveland, and L. L. Pierce. 1994. A vegetation classification logic based on remote sensing for use in global biogeochemical models. Ambio 23(1):77-81.

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