Home Archived December 11, 2018

The USGS Land Cover Institute (LCI)

  Kentucky Land Cover
Capital Frankfurt
Largest City Louisville
Area Ranked 37th
Total 39,728.18 sq mi
Population Ranked 25th
Total (2000) 4,041,769
Density 101.7/sq mi
Highest point Black Mountain 4,145 ft (1,263 m)
Lowest point Mississippi River 257 ft (78 m)
Kentucky Land Cover

Kentucky can be divided into three distinct regions: the mountains in the east, the interior, and the Mississippi plains in the west. The Cumberland Mountains in eastern Kentucky are home to the State’s highest point, Black Mountain (4,145 ft.) and deposits of coal. The State’s elevation then deviates west, with the Cumberland Plateau, characterized by its rolling hills with grassland land cover, providing an area of transition from the mountains to the Bluegrass Region. The Bluegrass Region is located northwest of the Plateau and is surrounded by knobs to the south, west, and east. Southwest of the Bluegrass Region is the Pennyroyal, a Mississippian Plateau known for its narrow hills, predominant agriculture industry, and karst landscape. The karst landscape is largely dominated by limestone caves and potholes, with Mammoth Cave being the most notable. Forest cover is found primarily in the eastern half of the State with ash, elm, hickory, maple, and oak being the most common tree genera. Horse, tobacco, broiler, cattle, and corn production are the most profitable agricultural commodities in the State.
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.