Thematic resolution influence in spatial analysis. An application to Land Use Cover Change (LUCC) modelling calibration

David García-Álvarez*, Christopher D. Lloyd, Hedwig Van Delden, María Teresa Camacho Olmedo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the uncertainty of every spatial analysis is a required step to be aware of its usefulness and limitations. The chosen scale of analysis determines part of this uncertainty. Thematic resolution refers to the grain component of scale, regarding the thematic detail at which categorical maps are made. The higher the thematic detail or resolution, the larger the amount of information we have and the more complex the analysis will be. Through this paper, we aim to assess how the calibration of a Land Use Cover Change (LUCC) model differs according to variation of the thematic resolution of input Land Use Land Cover (LULC) maps. To achieve this objective, we have set up four modelling exercises in Metronamica, each one calibrated with maps at different thematic resolutions. Obtained simulations were compared in terms of allocation of changes, modelled quantities, explanatory power of the model and pattern of simulated changes. Results show that the model behaves differently depending on the selected thematic resolution. Lower thematic resolution led to simpler simulations that, however, get better validation scores. High thematic resolution maps introduce more complexity and information in the analysis. If not correctly managed, this complexity and information can translate to model noise, worsening the model performance. The paper ends with a proposal of criteria to follow to aid modellers and researchers in the selection of the proper thematic resolution for their analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101375
JournalComputers, Environment and Urban Systems
Early online date03 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work has been supported by project SIGEOMOD_2020 · BIA2013-43462-P ( Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the Feder European Regional Development Fund ). The first author is also grateful to the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the European Social Fund (Ayudas para contratos predoctorales para la formación de doctores 2014 · BES-2014-068117) as well as to the University of Granada (Contratos Puente del Plan Propio de Investigación) for the funding of his research activity. We appretiatew the support of assistance given by the University of Liverpool. Finally, we also want to thank the two reviewers of this manuscript for their interest and insightful comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Land Use Cover Change Modelling
  • Metronamica
  • Scale
  • Thematic resolution
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Urban Studies


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