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Schneider, A; Logan, KE; Kucharik, CJ (2012). Impacts of Urbanization on Ecosystem Goods and Services in the U.S. Corn Belt. ECOSYSTEMS, 15(4), 519-541.

In this study, three cities located in the U.S. Corn Belt are evaluated for impacts of past (1992-2001) and projected (2001-2030) urban expansion on ecosystem goods and services, with a specific focus on changes in energy balance, hydrology, and productivity. Scenarios for high-, medium- and low-density urban areas are simulated using a dynamic agro-ecosystem model (Agro-IBIS), by incorporating new parameterizations for impervious surfaces and turf grass. Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) 500-m albedo data and remote sensing-derived 30-m resolution maps from the U.S. National Land Cover Database are used as model input to simulate biogeochemical, thermodynamic, and hydrological cycles for a range of land-cover types in each region. The results show that the expanding urban areas have a significant impact on each city's capacity to regulate climate and flooding. High-density urban areas, for instance, have soil surface temperatures up to 6A degrees C higher than soils within natural and managed ecosystems. Expansion of turf grass in residential areas could require an additional 8-105 million m(3) of water use annually, which increases runoff by 15-48% and reduces the capacity to respond/adapt to flooding. Finally, the analysis shows that net primary productivity (NPP) decreases as expected due to the removal of cropland, forests, and grasslands in favor of development, but increased urban turf grass provides an annual offset of 40-210 g C m(-2). Urban expansion through 2030 is estimated to lower total annual crop production by 8.1, 8.6, and 16.7% for the Madison, Peoria, and Indianapolis regions, respectively. Given current projections for city growth to exceed 2-3% per year in the north-central U.S., urban expansion across a nine-state region in the Corn Belt could potentially take an additional 210,000-310,000 ha of farmland out of production annually at a time when demand for food, fuel, and fiber is increasing. Because conversion of cropland to urban uses is nearly always unidirectional, any changes to ecosystem goods and services due to urbanization are likely to be permanent and irreversible.



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