USGS - science for a changing world

Landcover Modeling

Washington / Baltimore Area
2006 to 2050 Land-cover Change
IPCC SRES A2 Scenario

In the IPCC SRES A2 scenario, high population growth, an emphasis on economic growth over environmental conservation, and high demand for food, fiber, and energy resources lead to expansion of the human footprint on the landscape. "Anthropogenic" land-cover classes, those representing intense human use of the landscape (i.e., urban development, agricultural land, mining, and forestry) expand significantly in the A2 scenario, while "natural" landscapes (i.e., forest, grassland, shrubland, and wetland) decline significantly.

In the Washington D.C. / Baltimore area, high population growth results in a significant expansion in urban development between 2006 and 2050. Both the Washington DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas expand substantially into the surrounding landscape, resulting in a loss of forested and agricultural lands. With a loss of prime agricultural land but continued high global demand for agricultural products, agricultural activities expand in the region to increasingly marginal lands. High demand for wood and fiber products results in an increasingly managed forested landscape, with intensive management practices designed to maximize forest productivity. The relative prosperity of the region allows for a moderate regional emphasis on environmental conservation, but protected lands and other natural refugia become increasingly fragmented.

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Page Last Modified: March 21, 2016