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Interdisciplinary research looks at Charlotte's green mystery
Date:9/13/2010

Charlotte, North Carolina is a rapidly growing city. Charlotte is also a green city. Some people might see that as a contradiction.

In Charlotte, there are wooded lots and remnant farms plots almost in the shadow of the towers of the nation's second largest financial center. There are also many sizable tracts of undeveloped land within the city's boundaries. Social scientists find the co-existence of strong urban growth and persistent green areas puzzling. The National Science Foundation thinks that Charlotte's complex environment might make an interesting site for long-term research in urban growth and sustainability.

After more than 12,000 years of civilization, more people now live in cities than in any other environment, yet our understanding of urban dynamics is still incomplete. Cities' paths to prosperity or failure, sustainability or decay are still mysterious to us because, like the humans that created them, urban systems are extremely complicated. For this reason, the NSF has been funding innovative, inter-disciplinary research aimed at studying the phenomenon of how cities grow and function as ecosystems, beginning with the 1998 establishment of two urban Long-term Ecological Research sites in Phoenix and Baltimore. Some important things have been learned, but now the NSF is considering establishing new study sites and is looking at 17 different cities as possible locations.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte have been awarded $300,000 by NSF's Urban Long-Term Research Areas Exploratory Research Projects (ULTRA-EX) competition one of 17 national awards given for pilot urban research projects. The exploratory projects are research trials that may lead to the later award of an ULTRA site the establishment of a long-term study site with major NSF funding for urban-environment research.

Charlotte, which has experienced dynamic urban growth without losing all the pastoral charms of the North Car
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Contact: James Hathaway
jbhathaw@uncc.edu
704-687-5743
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Source:Eurekalert

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