Investigating Forest Conversion Across Several Scales of Urbanization in the Eastern United States


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Urbanization in the United States has clearly impacted land cover, and land use and land cover change (LULCC) patterns. A great body of literature has addressed the negative results of increased sprawl and a supporting literature has catalogued the story of forest loss—to grassland/ shrub, to agricultural land, to developed land and other land use categories. The Micropolitan Statistical Area (μSA) is a new geographic entity created in 2003 by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to depict the transitional area between Metropolitan Statistics Areas (MSAs) and non-designated areas (i.e., rural regions). Our prior work has demonstrated that μSAs are unique with regards to the dynamics of land conversion for development, and that there is a clear need to investigate the regional drivers of specific types of land-cover change at this scale. This research seeks to (1) tabulate the amount difference of forest conversion among MSAs, μSAs, and non-designated areas in select megaregions; and (2) highlight/ depict the change in key μSAs (computed as a percentage of forest cover change) across east coast. By combining μSA boundaries with the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) change product and change detection results from Google Earth Engine platform to examine forest cover change patterns across four East-Coast megaregions (as defined by America 2050 [Florida, Piedmont Atlantic, Great Lakes and the North East megaregion]). We have an opportunity to illustrate that in rare circumstances there are μSAs that have witnessed an irregularities in forest conversion between 2001 and 2006.



Forest conversion, Urbanization, Eastern United States, Vegetation mapping