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Land Cover Status and Trends for Cook Inlet Region of Alaska

The USGS assesses the Nation's land resources at a range of spatial and temporal scales to understand the rates, causes, and consequences of landscape change over time. It conducts long-term studies of land use and disturbance histories, as well as determining the reasons for changes, thus leading to improved understanding and knowledge of landscape processes. The Program brings focus to the Nation's environmental, natural resource, hazards, and economic issues through scientific assessments that provide a national perspective on land-surface change. These studies are conducted across the spectrum temporal and spatial domains and provide information that supports the development of reports on the Status and Trends of the Nation's biological and physical resources, especially as they relate to land use and land cover dynamics.

Alaska contains some of the most diverse landscapes in the United States, from arctic tundra in to the north to temperate rain forests in the south. Mixed in with large areas of wilderness and minimally developed areas are smaller localized, rapidly developing lands for housing and urban development, resource extraction, and recreation. Different parts of the region have gone through a series of boom and bust economic times, with some areas having continuingly increasing economic growth for the last 16 years. Many of the outlying areas are beginning to experience more housing developments to accommodate the increasing population that commutes to and from the major urban centers such as Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau, as well as the many outlying communities that rely heavily on a seasonal tourist industry. In more wilderness areas however, the primary driver of landscape change is currently due to natural forces (climate, insect, fires, etc.). This study will document the recent historical and current landscape changes that have and are occurring within Alaskan ecoregions along with associated natural and anthropogenic activities over the last 30 to 40 years.

This project will look at the following temporal characteristics on an ecoregion basis in Alaska: (a) land cover and their biophysical properties; (b) changes in social-economic conditions; (c) the primary types of change that have occurred and that are currently occurring; and (d) analysis of the possible causes and consequences of those changes. The trends analyses also will be used to assess overall rates of land cover change and to understand the connections between driving forces and impacts associated with certain landscapes.

Current Findings:


Jones, B. M. 2008. Land-cover change on the southern Kenai Peninsula Lowlands, Alaska using USGS Land Cover Trends methodology. Journal of Geography and Regional Planning 1(4):68-71.

Jones, B. M., 2008, The face of Alaska—A look at land cover and the potential drivers of change: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2008-1161, 39 p.

Principal Investigator: Benjamin Jones (bjones@usgs.gov, 907 786 7033)
Picture of Benjamin Jones. Linked to larger image.

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