Aug 19, 2014

Major land cover changes in U.S. coastal regions: NOAA analysis

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US: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) country-wide analysis reveals that 64,975 square miles in coastal regions have undergone changes in land cover, including a decline in forest cover and wetlands with development a major contributing factor.

Nate Herold, a NOAA physical scientist said,” “Land cover maps document what’s happening on the ground. By showing how that land cover has changed over time, scientists can determine how these changes impact our plant’s environmental health.”

About 8.2 percent of the nation’s ocean and Great Lakes coastal regions experienced significant changes between 2001-2006. The land cover changes resulted in a loss of 1,536 square miles of wetlands, and a decline in total forest cover by 6.1 percent. Wetland loss due to development equals 642 square miles, a disappearance rate averaging 61 football fields lost daily. Forest changes overall totalled 27,515 square miles, equaling West Virginia, Rhode Island and Delaware combined. This overall impact, however, was partially offset by reforestation growth. Still, the net forest cover loss was 16,483 square miles.

Source: NOAA and geospatial