The change of land use/land cover has been known as an imperative force in environmental alteration, especially in arid and semi-arid areas. This research was mainly aimed to assess the validity of two major types of land change modeling techniques via a three dimensional approach in Birjand urban watershed located in an arid climatic region of Iran. Thus, a Markovian approach based on two suitability and transition potential mappers, i.e. fuzzy analytic hierarchy process and artificial neural network-multi layer perceptron was used to simulate land use map. Validation metrics, quantity disagreement, allocation disagreement and figure of merit in a three-dimensional space were used to perform model validation. Utilizing the fuzzy-analytic hierarchy processsimulation of total landscape in the target point 2015, quantity error, the figure of merit and allocation error were 2%, 18.5% and 8%, respectively. However, Artificial neural network-multi layer perceptron simulation led to a marginal improvement in figure of merit, i.e. 3.25%.
- Land use alterations were mostly harmonized with the expansion of urban patches which resulted in the acreage reduction of rangelands surrounding the city of Birjand in Iran
- Using disagreement components in a three dimensional validation approach instead of Kappa coefficient could be a better guide for validating and evaluating model errors
- According to the validation indices, Markov simulation based on MLP approach showed a marginally higher robustness for LUCC simulation, as compared with the Fuzzy-AHP transition potential mapper.