Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

USA's Built-up Surfaces Equal Ohio In Area

Date:
June 15, 2004
Source:
American Geophysical Union
Summary:
If all the highways, streets, buildings, parking lots and other solid structures in the 48 contiguous United States were pieced together like a giant jigsaw puzzle, they would almost cover the state of Ohio.

WASHINGTON - If all the highways, streets, buildings, parking lots and other solid structures in the 48 contiguous United States were pieced together like a giant jigsaw puzzle, they would almost cover the state of Ohio. That is the result of a study by Christopher Elvidge of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, who along with colleagues from several universities and agencies produced the first national map and inventory of impervious surface areas (ISA) in the United States.

As calculated by the researchers, the total impervious surface area of the 48 states and District of Columbia is approximately 112,610 square kilometers [43,480 square miles], and, for comparison, the total area of the state of Ohio is 116,534 square kilometers [44,994 square miles].

The new map is important, because impervious surface areas affect the environment. The qualities of impervious materials that make them ideal for construction also create urban heat islands, by reducing heat transfer from Earth's surface to the atmosphere. The replacement of heavily vegetated areas by ISA reduces sequestration of carbon, which plants absorb from the atmosphere, Elvidge says in the 15 June issue of Eos, published by the American Geophysical Union. Both of these effects can play a role in climate change.

In watersheds, impervious surface areas alter the shape of stream channels, raise the water temperature, and sweep urban debris and pollutants into aquatic environments. These effects are measurable once ten percent of a watershed's surface area is covered by ISA, Elvidge writes. The consequences of increased ISA include fewer fish and fewer species of fish and aquatic insects, as well as a general degradation of wetlands and river valleys. The impervious surface area of the contiguous United States is already slightly larger than that of its wetlands, which is 98,460 square kilometers [38,020 square miles].

Elvidge notes that few areas have ISA maps, because they are difficult and expensive to create. He used a variety of data sources to produce the map accompanying his article, including nighttime lights observed by satellite, Landsat images, and data on roads from the U.S. Census Bureau, along with aerial photography. He anticipates that this map will be useful to scientists and planners managing conservation and resource allocation, as well as those working on issues of water quality, biodiversity, habitat loss and fragmentation, and climate change.

The population of the United States is increasing by three million persons annually, Elvidge writes. New impervious surface areas are rapidly covering vegetated surfaces, including one million new single family homes and 20,000 kilometers [10,000 miles] of new roads per year. Given these trends, he says, ISA will likely become a more prominent issue in coming years.

The study was funded in part by NASA.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Geophysical Union. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Geophysical Union. "USA's Built-up Surfaces Equal Ohio In Area." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 June 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040615080052.htm>.
American Geophysical Union. (2004, June 15). USA's Built-up Surfaces Equal Ohio In Area. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040615080052.htm
American Geophysical Union. "USA's Built-up Surfaces Equal Ohio In Area." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/06/040615080052.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) Organizers of the People's Climate March and other rallies taking place in 166 countries hope to move U.N. officials to action ahead of their summit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins