MicroclimOz – A microclimate data set for Australia, with example applications

Date: 03, Dec, 2018
Author(s): Michael Kearney  
Publisher: Austral Ecology

Many problems in pure and applied ecology require the quantification of above- and below-ground microclimates. Here I describe a data set of hourly microclimates for the Australian continent, simulated from the years 1990 to 2017 across a grid of 1893 locations approx. 60 km apart. The data were generated with the NicheMapR microclimate model, driven by 0.05° gridded daily meteorological forcing data (air temperature, wind speed, humidity, cloud cover, rainfall), 0.025° elevation and 0.008° soil texture data. The above-ground microclimate variables include horizontal plane solar radiation, solar zenith angle, sky temperature (from which down-welling longwave radiation can be computed), air temperature, relative humidity and wind speed at 1 and 120 cm height, and snow depth. The below-ground variables include soil temperature, pore humidity, soil moisture and soil water potential for 0, 2.5, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, 50, 100 and 200 cm below-ground. The computations are for four shade levels (0%, 50%, 70% and 90%). The data set can be used for a wide variety of applications, including the computation of heat and water budgets of organisms, the potential for vegetation growth, and the computation of stress and growth indices. The use of daily forcing data also allows assessments of the consequences of extreme events including heat waves. Example applications are provided for computing plant growth potential, grasshopper egg development, lizard body temperature and mammalian energy and water requirements.