Declining water quality in the Chesapeake Bay estuary is in part the result of disruptions in the hydrological system caused by urban and suburban development throughout its 167 000 km2 watershed, A modeling system that could provide regional assessments of future development and explore the potential impacts of different regional management scenarios would be useful for a wide range of applications relevant to the future health of the Bay and its tributaries. We describe and test a regional predictive modeling system that could be used to meet these needs. An existing cellular automaton model, SLEUTH,was applied to a 23 700 km2 area centered on the Washington - Baltimore metropolitan region, which has experienced rapid land-use change in recent years. The model was calibrated using a historic time series of developed areas derived from remote sensing imagery, and future growth was projected out to 2030 assuming three different policy scenarios: (1) current trends, (2) managed growth, and (3) ecologically sustainable growth. The current trends scenario allowed areas on the urban fringe that are currently rural or forested to be developed, which would have implications for water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The managed growth and ecologically sustainable scenarios produced growth patterns that were more constrained and which consumed less natural resource land. This application of the SLEUTH model demonstrates an ability to address a range of regional planning issues, but spatial accuracy and scale sensitivity are among the factors that must be further considered for practical application.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Urban Studies
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law