Coupled simulation of human-driven and natural land cover change in the Front Range Corridor, CO

Zhihua Liu, Michael C. Wimberly, Aashis Lamsal, Terry L. Sohl, Todd J. Hawbaker

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

The Colorado Front Range Corridor is a mixture of urban, agricultural, grassland, and diverse forest types, making it an ideal natural laboratory to investigate feedbacks and interactions of coupled human and natural systems. We explored future scenarios of human-driven land use change and natural vegetation dynamics using the CHANGE model, which integrates a demand-allocation land use change module, a succession module for natural vegetation dynamics, and a spatially explicit fire initiation and spread module. We used the model to project landscape change over an approximately 48000 km2 study area from 2005 through 2050 under A2 and B1 emission scenarios. The area of young forest and deciduous forest increased due to increased burned area. The degree of forest species and structure change depended on the fire regime, with more dramatic change simulated under the A2 emission scenario. Expansion of developed areas resulted in loss of natural vegetation, and most of the newly developed area was in the Great Plains. However, expansion of the wildland urban interface (WUI) mainly occurred in the forests of the Southern Rocky Mountains and was concentrated along roads. The results suggested that: (1) increase of young forest may lead to higher drought and fire susceptibility, further amplifying fire risks; (2) fire and fuel management in the WUI is already challenging and those challenges will be greater with continued expansion of the WUI and changes in fire regimes; (3) changing land cover and natural vegetation composition and structure in our study area may have significant effects on a variety of ecosystem services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages2052-2059
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2014
Event7th International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software, iEMSs 2014 - San Diego, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2014Jun 19 2014

Conference

Conference7th International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software, iEMSs 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego
Period06/15/1406/19/14

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Coupled human and natural systems
  • Ecosystem disturbance
  • Land use and cover change
  • Wildfire
  • Wildland urban interface

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Coupled simulation of human-driven and natural land cover change in the Front Range Corridor, CO'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this