Scenarios and Modeling of Land Use and Land CoverScenarios have emerged as useful tools to explore uncertain futures in ecological and anthropogenic systems. Scenarios differ from predictions, forecasts, and projections in that they describe alternative futures given our current understanding of the way drivers of land-use and land-cover (LULC) interact to affect ecosystems. Because local land-use pattern has significant impacts on ecological processes, spatially explicit modeling within a scenario framework provides the capability for researchers and ecological modelers to analyze the impacts of LULC change on hydrology, local and regional weather and climatology, biogeochemical fluxes, and biodiversity. The overarching goal of this theme is to develop spatial model scenarios of land use and land cover changes to understand the vulnerability and resilience of coupled human–environment systems and the services they provide. The modeling of LULC change within a robust, scenario-based framework will be keyed to various economic and policy assumptions, modeled based on associations of land change and biophysical parameters, and developed for decision-support and use in resource planning.
Why is this research important?
Land use and land cover change affects a wide range of human and natural systems and contributes to changes in carbon exchange and climate through a range of feedbacks. Future changes in LULC are a function of numerous driving force variables. Biophysical conditions, population change, economic activity and growth, societal attitudes, governance, and regulatory regimes are all important drivers of change, interacting to create unique and dynamic LULC mosaics functioning at a range of geographic scales. LULC scenario development, coupled with spatially explicit LULC modeling, has emerged as a useful framework for investigating alternative futures of land use and land cover and the potential impacts of Earth systems.
Principal Investigators: Benjamin M. Sleeter and Terry L. Sohl
Project Team: Tamara Wilson, Rachel Sleeter, Chris Soulard, Glenn Griffith, Kristi Sayler, Michelle Bouchard, Ryan Reker