Consequences of Land Use and Land Cover ChangeThe dictionary defines consequences as "...something produced by a cause or necessarily following from a set of conditions". For Climate and Land Use research, these conditions are often represented by the land use and land covers and the changes that are the result of both natural and anthropogenic forces and that cause alterations to the natural landscape. Much of the previous USGS work in the land cover research has involved mapping and quantifying land use and land cover (LULC), and land use and land cover change (LULCC) through time and identifying, the patterns and drivers of this change.
Beyond developing an understanding of the mechanics and drivers of LULCC, consequences research is focused on the analysis of the significant, sometimes unintentional, effects of land cover change. Some of the areas of current consequences research include: 1) changes in local habitat and landscape integrity as a result of natural gas development, 2) changes in regional flood risk as a result of land cover change, and 3) changes in albedo and radiative forcing at a national scale.
Consequences research employs standard USGS Land Cover Trends sample data sets but also employs a suite of other USGS data sets, such as NLCD, as well as traditional and advanced remote sensing systems.
Why is this research important?
Consequences refer to the significant effects of land use and land cover change. In the USGS, focus on the consequences of LULCC has evolved to be a principal research area, especially as related to global change and is explicitly tied to Goal 4 of the current USGS Global Change research plan. Consequences research builds on a rich history of USGS LULCC characterization and data development and represents a next step in the evolution of scientific understanding of the interactions of a combined human and natural system. The goal of this research component is to assess the impacts and feedbacks of past, present, and future land use and land cover change on earth systems at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.
Consequences research relates to U.S. Global Climate Change Research and the USGS Climate and Land Use R&D Programs as a critical program element of land use and land cover and its relationship to climate, energy, weather, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon balance, and ecosystems extent and condition. Consequences research focuses on policy-relevant effects relating to important contemporary climate, ecosystem and landscape issues.
Principal Investigator: Terry Slonecker, Eastern Geographic Science Center
Project Team: Randal Alexander, Christopher Barnes, Krista Karstensen, Alexander Malizia, David Marr, Lesley Milheim, Coral Roig-Silva