Climate and Land-use Change in New England

dyingtreesDeforestation in New England had been in decline since the transition away from an agricultural based economy at the end of the 19th century. But, rising population and expanding residential and commercial development have led to a rise in deforestation rates from 1990 to 2005, especially in southern New England.

Land-use change is a particular concern for coastal regions such as Cape Cod where the changing climate and threats of sea level rise are already impacting the land.

The forests of Maine continue to be impacted by climate change which may lead to greater greenhouse gas releases there.

Wood Hole Research Center scientists are studying how changes in land-use affect local climate and how the changing climate is affecting the land.

capecod-satelliteWHRC scientists work in the field in Maine’s Howland Forest and combine satellite imagery to understand land-use change on Cape Cod. In the Howland Forest, research projects seek to measure how much carbon is released and absorbed by these forests to develop models to predict how forest carbon storage is affected by variation in temperature and precipitation.

WHRC has produced a series of land change maps for Cape Cod, SE Massachusetts and Southern Maine that have been instrumental in local land-use planning.

Losing Cape Cod – Saving Cape Cod poster (pdf)

Land Cover Conversion on Cape Cod 1950-1990

1951 vs 1999 Land Cover of Cape Cod

Cape Cod Water Supply Development Potential

Land Cover Change in the Towns of Cape Cod

WHRC scientists have worked with students through the U.S. Department of Energy Student Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program, the University of Chicago and the University of Maine and the Partnership in Education Program.

Department of Energy
US Forest Service
Harvard University
University of Maine
Queens University