A study of changing land use patterns in the state of Maryland found substantial and significant increases in sprawl between 1973 and 2000.
The results are in contrast to a well-publicized study last year that concluded that the extent of sprawl remained roughly unchanged in the United States between 1976 and 1992.
“We found that the areas where sprawl increased the most were in the exurban areas – out beyond even the suburbs,” said Elena Irwin, co-author of the study and associate professor of environmental economics at Ohio State University.
The study looked for evidence of fragmented land use – areas where housing was juxtaposed with agriculture or forested areas, for example. That's one of the basic hallmarks of sprawl.
Results showed the level of peak land-use fragmentation was 60 percent greater in 2000 as it was in 1973, and shifted outward from the central cities to a distance of 55 miles in 2000, up from about 40 miles in 1973.
Fragmented land use increased the most in non-urban areas located about 80 miles from the nearest city, the researchers found.
“People are moving further and further away from the center of cities and increasingly more people are living on larger lots,” she said. “That's increasing the level of sprawl.”
The study was published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Irwin conducted the study with Nancy Bockstael of the University of Maryland .
Irwin said it is very difficult to measure sprawl because of the limitations of data available to researchers. That's one problem with the study published last year in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, claiming that sprawl has not increased in the United States .
That study used high altitude photos and satellite images to track land use changes between 1976 and 1992.
“However, satellite data is not very good at recording low-density residential development, which we find is the essential footprint of sprawl,” Irwin said. “Low-density housing is the type of land use that is most strongly associated with fragmentation.”As part of their study, Irwin and Bockstael used land use data from Howard County to examine at a more finely detailed level how individual patches of land in the county were used. When they compared their data with the satellite image data, they found that the satellite data captured only 26 percent of low-density residential development that occurred in the county.
Irwin said the new reality of sprawl is not conforming to the commonly accepted models of how metropolitan areas develop. The basic theory has been that when pockets of land just beyond the suburbs are developed, the area nearer the central city will be “filled in” before development moves even further out.
“We find lots of evidence for increases in sprawl further out, but very little evidence for infill development closer to the central city,” she said. “It contradicts the basic idea of an orderly development process.”
“The results reflect the diminished pull of city centers,” Irwin said. More people have jobs in suburban areas, or are telecommuting, and no longer have the need or desire to live close to the major cities, she explained.
While people are less interested in living in or near large cities, they are also being drawn out by natural amenities in rural areas, such as lakes, oceans, forests or mountains.
For example, in this study the researchers found less fragmented areas closer to the edge of Chesapeake Bay , suggesting an attraction to the coast.
Irwin said the study also found a link between sprawl and the building of roads and zoning regulations that require larger lot sizes. However, it was not possible to distinguish whether large-lot zoning and roads cause sprawl, or vice versa.
While this study was done only for the state of Maryland , Irwin said she would expect the results to be applicable to other states that have witnessed substantial urbanization.
“What's driving these fragmentation patterns in Maryland does not appear to be specific to Maryland ,” she said. “Exurban, low-density development has been well-documented across the United States .”
This research was supported by grants from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Jeff Grabmeier | EurekAlert!
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy