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The southern megalopolis: using the past to predict the future of urban sprawl in the Southeast U.S.

PLoS ONE

By:
, , , , ,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0102261

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Abstract

The future health of ecosystems is arguably as dependent on urban sprawl as it is on human-caused climatic warming. Urban sprawl strongly impacts the urban ecosystems it creates and the natural and agro-ecosystems that it displaces and fragments. Here, we project urban sprawl changes for the next 50 years for the fast-growing Southeast U.S. Previous studies have focused on modeling population density, but the urban extent is arguably as important as population density per se in terms of its ecological and conservation impacts. We develop simulations using the SLEUTH urban growth model that complement population-driven models but focus on spatial pattern and extent. To better capture the reach of low-density suburban development, we extend the capabilities of SLEUTH by incorporating street-network information. Our simulations point to a future in which the extent of urbanization in the Southeast is projected to increase by 101% to 192%. Our results highlight areas where ecosystem fragmentation is likely, and serve as a benchmark to explore the challenging tradeoffs between ecosystem health, economic growth and cultural desires.

Geospatial Extents

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
The southern megalopolis: using the past to predict the future of urban sprawl in the Southeast U.S.
Series title:
PLoS ONE
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0102261
Volume
9
Issue:
7
Year Published:
2014
Language:
English
Publisher:
Public Library of Science
Publisher location:
San Francisco, CA
Contributing office(s):
Southeast Climate Science Center
Description:
8 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
PLoS ONE
Number of Pages:
8
Country:
United States