Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Prototyping a methodology for long-term (1680-2100) historical-to-future landscape modeling for the conterminous United States

May 19, 2021

Land system change has been identified as one of four major Earth system processes where change has passed a destabilizing threshold. A historical record of landscape change is required to understand the impacts change has had on human and natural systems, while scenarios of future landscape change are required to facilitate planning and mitigation efforts. A methodology for modeling long-term historical and future landscape change was applied in the Delaware River Basin of the United States. A parcel-based modeling framework was used to reconstruct historical landscapes back to 1680, parameterized with a variety of spatial and nonspatial historical datasets. Similarly, scenarios of future landscape change were modeled for multiple scenarios out to 2100. Results demonstrate the ability to represent historical land cover proportions and general patterns at broad spatial scales and model multiple potential future landscape trajectories. The resulting land cover collection provides consistent data from 1680 through 2100, at a 30-m spatial resolution, 10-year intervals, and high thematic resolution. The data are consistent with the spatial and thematic characteristics of widely used national-scale land cover datasets, facilitating use within existing land management and research workflows. The methodology demonstrated in the Delaware River Basin is extensible and scalable, with potential applications at national scales for the United States.