About IPUMS Terra

Our understanding of interactions between population and environment has been hampered by differences in the data structures and analysis methods and tools used within different disciplines, as well as a dearth of internationally comparable data. Closely integrating global population data with data on the environment allows us to describe the unfolding transformation of human and ecological systems. Data on the human population are crucial for understanding changes in the Earth’s biological and climate processes; equally important, data on climate and land provide essential tools for understanding the impact of environmental change on human behavior. By creating a framework for locating, analyzing, and visualizing the world's population and environment in time and space, IPUMS Terra provides unprecedented opportunities for investigating the agents of change, assessing their implications for human society and the environment, and developing policies to meet future challenges.

IPUMS Terra provides global-scale data on human population characteristics, land use, land cover, climate and other environmental characteristics. It makes these data interoperable across time and space, disseminates them to the public and to multiple research communities, and preserves these precious resources for future generations. The IPUMS Terra framework provides tools for integrating, analyzing, and visualizing a wide range of data that have spatial and temporal dimensions.

IPUMS Terra currently focuses on five kinds of data:

  1. Census and survey microdata describing the characteristics of individuals and their families and households
  2. Aggregate census and survey data, describing the characteristics of places, including aggregate population characteristics, land use, and land cover
  3. Data derived from remote-sensing describing land cover and other environmental characteristics
  4. Climate data describing temperature, precipitation, and other climate-related variables
  5. Vector-based geographic information system (GIS) data delineating administrative and census unit boundaries

All five data types have an important temporal dimension; most of the data span multiple decades, and some sources reach back to the nineteenth century or earlier. By integrating the most comprehensive global data collections on land use and climate change with the major global collections of population data, IPUMS Terra constitutes a unique international reference collection for investigating transformative changes in the human-environment system.

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