USGS - science for a changing world

The USGS Land Cover Institute (LCI)



Land Cover Trends Project

The focus of the Land Cover Trends project is to document within a geographic framework (ecoregions), the rates, causes, and consequences of land use and land cover change for the conterminous United States for the 1972-2000 period. The Environmental Protection Agency collaborates with the USGS in this research. A scientific understanding of the rates of change, the driving forces of change, and the associated impacts of change has taken center stage within the international global change research community. The issue of land cover change is also becoming an important national policy question as questions associated with carbon budgets and carbon credits move to the forefront in the post-Kyoto era. Fundamental questions that must be addressed include: (1) what are the overall rates of land cover change, and what are the rates of change by sector (i.e., what are the rates of conversion from agricultural to urban land cover); and (2) how do the rates of change vary locally, regionally; and temporally?

Goal and Objectives

The overall goal is to provide geographically specific assessments (using ecoregions) of the types of land use and land cover changes occurring over the past 30 years, and an identification of the causes and consequences of those changes. Objectives are to:

  • Develop a comprehensive methodology for using sampling and change analysis techniques and Landsat MSS and TM data for measuring land cover change in 85 U.S. ecoregions.
  • Estimate the types, rates, and temporal variability of change for each ecoregion.
  • Document regional driving forces and consequences of change.
  • Prepare a national synthesis of land cover change.

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Page Last Modified: December 2012