In 50 Years, Will Urban Sprawl Create a “Southern Megalopolis?”


southern_megalopolis_PLOS_ONE.jpgThe rapid pace of human population growth in the southeastern United States is a useful predictor of land and infrastructure development. But researchers are looking beyond increasing population density to examine recent trends in urban sprawl—the low-density development that stretches beyond a city’s core—to project future changes in the region’s land cover patterns. Jennifer Costanza, a North Carolina State University scientist working with the Eastern Threat Center, is a co-author of a recently published urban growth modeling experiment that simulated the spatial pattern and extent of urban sprawl in 2060, if current development trends continue. Results suggest that urban sprawl could double or nearly triple, creating a metropolitan area that stretches from Raleigh, NC, to Atlanta, GA, along with unprecedented challenges to forest ecosystem conservation in the Southeast. Costanza discusses the study and implications for urban planning and natural resource management in an article published in The Post and Courier. View other media coverage compiled by the Global Change Forum.

Pictured: By 2060, the Piedmont region could be a connected urban landscape, or "southern megalopolis," according to modeling results. Image courtesy of PLOS ONE.


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