Land Cover Change in theWashington DC Metropolitan Area

What is Landcover Change?
Land Cover describes the type of surface on the Earth. Many types of landcover are present in urban areas like Washington, such as pavement, forests, agriculture. Around Washington D.C. and most other metropolitan areas, landcover is changing in response to human activities. As the population and economy expands, areas covered by pavement are expanding into agricultural or forested areas. This process has many effects on the geomophology, ecology, and economy of the Washington area.
Staff at the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies are engaged in research of land cover change in the Washington area. Satellite images are being used to explore the effect of urbanization on geomorphological and ecological processes at the regional scale. The research described here focuses on detecting the extent of urbanization in the Washington area. Recent results are reported below in the "images" section. Click here to read a report from 1996.
Maps of Landcover Changes 1993-1997
These data are based on the interpretation of Landsat images. Follow the link for a detailed description.

Paved Landcover in Washington DC
Satellite images can be used to identify areas that are covered with paved surfaces. Follow the link to see where these areas are located in Washington.

Washington Dulles International Airport
Some of the fastest changes are taking place around Dulles Airport. Follow the link to see how changes in land cover are visible in satellite images.
The Center for Earth and Planetary Studies is a department of the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, located in Washington. If you have questions about this work, please click here to send e-mail.

Other Research Activities at CEPS

CEPS Research

Revised: April 2, 2001 (jh)
1994-2001 National Air and Space Museum