Temporal Scale

Temporal Scale: The entire timespan of interest (i.e., extent) and the smallest unit of time over which observations are aggregated (i.e., grain). Temporal scale is changed when either extent or grain, or both are altered. In Figure 2, spatial scale is constant and temporal scale is changed, illustrating how different patterns emerge from different temporal scales.

Figure 2.  Changes in soil organic matter content viewed from different temporal scales. An extent of days (lower panel) shows rapid fluctuation of soil organic matter from wind and insects. At an extent of years (middle panel), seasonal patterns of organic matter decomposition become apparent. At an extent of centuries (upper panel), organic matter accumulates with oscillations from changes in the vegetation community. Adapted from Turner and Gardner (2015) and from Sollins et al. (1983).