Home Archived December 11, 2018

The USGS Land Cover Institute (LCI)

  Florida Land Cover
Capital Tallahassee
Largest City Jacksonville
Area Ranked 22nd
Total 53,926.82 sq mi
Population Ranked 4th
Total (2000) 15,982,378
Density 296.4/sq mi
Highest point Britton Hill 345 ft (105 m)
Lowest point Atlantic Ocean 0 ft (0 m)
Florida Land Cover

Florida is situated in the Coastal Plain region. The States landscape varies from the gently rolling panhandle with evergreen pine forests in the north, to the flat expanse of the Everglades across the southern tip of the State. Wetlands, agriculture, and urban lands are interspersed throughout the landscape. Florida has an expansive coastline that stretches over 1,197 miles. Waters of the Gulf of Mexico warm Florida's west coast while the Gulf Stream waters of the Atlantic Ocean have a similar effect on the eastern shore. Much of the east coast is shielded from the Atlantic Ocean by narrow sandbars and barrier islands that protect the shallow lagoons, rivers, and bays. Open water covers 3.6 percent of the State with Lake Okeechobee being the largest water body in Florida. However, wetlands are the predominant land cover type, covering 31 percent of the landscape and providing a unique habitat for a wide diversity of plants and animals. Agricultural opportunities abound throughout the State with oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes and tangerines being the most common commodities.
The Importance of Land Cover Information

Scientists working in the USGS are among the leaders in the study of land cover. Land cover refers to the vegetation and artificial structures that cover the land's surface. Examples of land cover include trees, grass, crops, wetlands, water, buildings, and pavement. As scientists study land cover, they are also studying land use. Land use involves human activities that take place on the land such as farming, grazing, logging, and recreation. Land cover scientists use satellite images and other remotely sensed imagery to assess national and global land cover characteristics and monitor how - and how rapidly - land cover changes. They also study the economic impacts of land cover change as well as its effects on water quality, the spread of invasive species, habitat and biodiversity loss, climate variability, and other environmental factors. Scientists require up-to-date land cover information to accurately understand current conditions and to assess the extent and impacts of land cover change on the Earth system.