Study Area Within Chesapeake Bay Watershed
This image shows the greater Washington-Baltimore metropolitan study area within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Credit: Claire Jantz
Urban growth in Washington DC, 1986-2000
These satellite images of impervious surface data are an indication of the 39% increase in developed land in the Washington DC metropolitan area between 1986 (top) and 2000 (bottom). These images were derived from Landsat data fitted with an algorithm that illuminates changes in low-density residential land use, exemplifying sprawl. Impervious surfaces are shown in yellow, orange, and red.
According to NASA-funded researchers, developed land in the greater Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area is projected to increase 80 percent by 2030. Scientists used a computer-based decision support model loaded with NASA and commercial satellite images to simulate three policies affecting land use.
The researchers, Claire Jantz and Scott Goetz, from the University of Maryland, College Park, Md., and the Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, Mass., also found a 39 percent increase in developed land in the region from 1986 to 2000. Some of the most striking changes occurred around the Dulles Airport area in Northern Virginia.
Observations from NASA and commercial Earth observation satellites were used in a United States Geological Survey (USGS) computer model, called SLEUTH. The model was applied to 23,700 square kilometers (9151 sq. miles) of the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area. The initial aim was to simulate the impact of future policy scenarios on the area and Chesapeake Bay watershed. "The satellite observations provided us with an unprecedented ability to monitor the urbanization process and capture the patterns of urban sprawl," Goetz said.
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