Geographic similarity analysis for Land System Science: opportunities and tools to facilitate knowledge integration and transfer

Related GLP Member: Vasco Diogo, Matthias Bürgi, Niels Debonne, Julian Helfenstein, Christian Levers, Rebecca Swart, Tim Williams, Peter Verburg


Advances in Land System Science (LSS) rely on the evidence generated by different types of research activities, including place-based case studies, landscape/land-system mapping and synthesis research. However, these activities are usually conducted in parallel, with a lack of integration often leading to important knowledge gaps and limitations. In this article, we provide tools for the application of geographic similarity analysis (GSA), a collection of spatially-explicit methods assessing the degree of similarity between geographic locations, and thereby help to address these limitations. We identify opportunities for employing GSA to support: 1) selecting geographically representative sets of case studies; 2) integrating empirical evidence generated at different scales and levels of abstraction; and 3) facilitating context-sensitive knowledge transfer. The resulting toolbox provides approaches for facilitating researchers to get an enhanced understanding of multi-scale land change processes, as well as supporting land governance in scaling up the knowledge and solutions generated by LSS research.