Navigation Links
Slowing urban sprawl, adding forests curb floods and help rivers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Controlling urban growth and increasing forested land are the most effective ways to decrease future water runoff and flooding, according to a Purdue University study.

Bryan Pijanowski, an associate professor of forestry and natural resources, used a model to simulate Michigan's Muskegon River watershed runoff rates from 1900 through the present and forecast them 30 years into the future. Several scenarios, including forest regrowth, urbanization, and buffers between development and streams, were analyzed to estimate their impact on rivers and streams.

"Changes in the land's surface feed back to runoff. Urban sprawl and impervious surfaces are the biggest culprits," Pijanowski said. "If you're able to control development, it is the most effective way to save our river ecosystem."

Pijanowski said urban areas in the United States would double in 20 years at the current rate. In the model predictions, doubling the urban area in the Muskegon River watershed would increase runoff by 1 1/2 times.

Excess runoff can have several consequences, including flooding, increases in agricultural nutrients and urban pollutants entering nearby water and affecting aquatic life, increases in water temperature in rivers and streams that can affect aquatic life, and changes in the apportionment of water to wetlands and groundwater.

Pijanowski's findings, published in the early online version of the journal Environmental Management, suggest that slowing the rate of urban sprawl would be the most effective way to reduce or control runoff. Adding forest near rivers and streams and requiring buffer zones between those waterways and development also could help.

Pijanowski used historical data - including census information, aerial photos and housing statistics - to build historical landscapes back to the early 1900s. That data was fed into the Land Transformation Model, developed at Purdue, to determine historical runoff rates. Predictions from the present through 2030 also were created using the model. Assumptions for those predictions were created by local governments, state agencies and non-governmental groups working around the Muskegon River based on their knowledge of development and other area trends.

The findings included some good news: Pijanowski found that the landscape in the Midwest has improved since rapid deforestation in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with the best balance of urban and forested land since then occurring in the 1960s.

Rebuilding efforts after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 caused heavy deforestation. But the federal government reforested farmland that it took possession of in the Great Depression, leading to the balance observed in the 1960s.

"The past is the worst we'll ever see over a 140-year period. Even the worst-case scenarios show that the landscape won't be as bad as what we had in the 1890s and early 1900s," Pijanowski said. "The lesson here is that with time and care, these systems can be restored. Recovery is possible."

Pijanowski's future work will include examining the role landscape changes play in climate change and determining tipping points at which landscape changes impact rivers and streams.


Contact: Brian Wallheimer
Purdue University

Related biology news :

1. Landscape-scale treatment promising for slowing beetle spread
2. Slowing evolution to stop drug resistance
3. Study highlights forest protected areas as a critical strategy for slowing climate change
4. Study: urban black bears live fast, die young
5. UC Riverside scientist to explore how vegetation affects urban heat islands
6. Networks of small habitat patches can preserve urban biodiversity
7. Urban trees enhance water infiltration
8. The physics of star-forming clouds and the urban environment
9. A win-win: U-pick pumpkin farms recycle urban leaves
10. New pollution radar developed to provide unprecedented picture of urban smog
11. Urban myth disproved: Fingerprints do not improve grip friction
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016  The American College of ... Trade Show Executive Magazine as one of the fastest-growing ... May 25-27 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas ... the highest percentage of growth in each of the following ... exhibiting companies and number of attendees. The 2015 ACMG Annual ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... WASHINGTON , June 22, 2016 On ... highly-anticipated call to industry to share solutions for the ... by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explains that ... nationals are departing the United States ... criminals, and to defeat imposters. Logo - ...
(Date:6/20/2016)... , June 20, 2016 Securus Technologies, ... technology solutions for public safety, investigation, corrections and ... prisons involved, it has secured the final acceptance ... facilities for Managed Access Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, ... facilities to be installed by October, 2016. MAS ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... NEW YORK , June, 23, 2016  The ... students to envision new ways to harness living systems ... of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York ... more than 130 participating students, showcased projects at MoMA,s ... included Paola Antonelli , MoMA,s senior curator of ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking ... Arkansas State Crime Laboratory, has joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. ... Jocelyn Tremblay, President and COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a company dedicated ... the medical community, has closed its Series A funding ... . "We have received a commitment from ... we need to meet our current goals," stated ... the runway to complete validation on the current projects ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, ... ... capture (EDC) software, is exhibiting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and will showcase ... DIA Annual conference. ClinCapture will also be presenting a scientific poster on Disrupting ...
Breaking Biology Technology: