Global agro-ecological zones and FAO-GAEZ data portal

Following up on a widely acknowledged and highly successful release of the global agro-ecological zones (GAEZ v3) data portal by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and IIASA in 2012, the Water (WAT) Program in 2014 continued to collaborate with FAO to update data and extend model components in preparation of data portal GAEZ v4 scheduled for release in 2015.

© Milkuku | Dreamstime

© Milkuku | Dreamstime

In 2014 WAT developed a modeling mechanism for updating key crop eco-physiological parameters in the Agro-ecological Zones (AEZ) model database.

Agro-ecological productivity models, as in [1], use simple and robust crop models and provide standardized crop-modeling and environmental matching procedure to identify crop-specific limitations of prevailing climate, soil, and terrain resources under assumed levels of inputs and management conditions. The standardized crop-modeling and environmental matching procedure in AEZ makes it well suited for crop productivity assessment at regional, national and global scales. However, updating the AEZ model database has relied on mechanisms exogenous to the AEZ modeling process which might i) not always mirror the real technological progresses in farm fields and ii) be representative in the subarctic regions such as Northeast China, where moderate warming in the last 50 years has enabled innovative adaptation efforts for expanding the rice planting area and rice yield increment.

WAT research updated the japonica rice parameters in Northeast China, and simulate the rice production between 1980 and 1999 [2]. Results show a significant improvement in spatial performance of the AEZ model with the updated japonica rice eco-physiological parameters. This application illustrates that the procedure we propose presents a convenient way for updating AEZ eco-physiological parameters, which are based on observed technological progresses in the farm sites.


[1] Fischer G, Nachtergaele F, Prieler S, Teixeira E, Toth G, van Velthuizen HT, Verelst L, Wiberg D (2012). Global Agro-Ecological Zones (GAEZ v3.0) IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria & FAO, Rome, Italy.

[2] Tian Z, Zhong H, Sun L, Fischer G, van Velthuizen HT, Liang Z (2014). “Improving performance of Agro-Ecological Zone (AEZ) modeling by cross-scale model coupling: An application to japonica rice production in Northeast China” Ecological Modelling, 290:155-164 (24 October 2014) (Published online 26 December 2013).


Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Italy

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Last edited: 02 April 2015

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GAEZ v.4 and FAO-GAEZ Data Portal

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