Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study shows urban sprawl continues to gobble up land

18.12.2007
Despite reports to the contrary, urban sprawl has continued to grow significantly for the past several decades, new research suggests.

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.

“If you use only the satellite data, you're missing a lot of the sprawl story,” she said.

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!
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Robotic fish to replace animal testing
17.06.2019 | Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg

nachricht Marine oil snow
12.06.2019 | University of Delaware

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Successfully Tested in Praxis: Bidirectional Sensor Technology Optimizes Laser Material Deposition

The quality of additively manufactured components depends not only on the manufacturing process, but also on the inline process control. The process control ensures a reliable coating process because it detects deviations from the target geometry immediately. At LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be demonstrating how well bi-directional sensor technology can already be used for Laser Material Deposition (LMD) in combination with commercial optics at booth A2.431.

Fraunhofer ILT has been developing optical sensor technology specifically for production measurement technology for around 10 years. In particular, its »bd-1«...

Im Focus: The hidden structure of the periodic system

The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified

The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...

Im Focus: MPSD team discovers light-induced ferroelectricity in strontium titanate

Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.

Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...

Im Focus: Determining the Earth’s gravity field more accurately than ever before

Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.

The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...

Im Focus: Tube anemone has the largest animal mitochondrial genome ever sequenced

Discovery by Brazilian and US researchers could change the classification of two species, which appear more akin to jellyfish than was thought.

The tube anemone Isarachnanthus nocturnus is only 15 cm long but has the largest mitochondrial genome of any animal sequenced to date, with 80,923 base pairs....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new force for optical tweezers awakens

19.06.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New AI system manages road infrastructure via Google Street View

19.06.2019 | Information Technology

A new manufacturing process for aluminum alloys

19.06.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>