Land-Use Scenarios: National-Scale Housing-Density Scenarios Consistent with Climate Change Storylines

Climate and land-use change are major components of global environmental change with feedbacks between these components. The consequences of these interactions show that land-use may exacerbate or alleviate climate-change effects. Based on these findings it is important to use land-use scenarios that are consistent with the specific assumptions underlying climate change scenarios.

The Integrated Climate and Land-Use Scenarios (ICLUS) project developed land-use outputs that are based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) social, economic, and demographic storylines and adapted these to the United States. This report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes the methodology used to develop and modify the models that constitute the ICLUS project. The scenarios and maps resulting from this effort are intended to be used as benchmarks of possible land-use futures, focusing on residential housing, that are consistent with socioeconomic storylines used in the climate change science community. The two-way feedbacks that exist between climate and land use are not yet fully understood and have consequences for air quality, human health, water quality, and ecosystems. This report lays the foundation for characterizing and assessing the effects of these feedbacks and interactions by developing residential HD scenarios and deriving IS cover from them.

ICLUS outputs are derived from a pair of models. A demographic model generates population estimates that are distributed by the spatial allocation model as housing density (HD) across the landscape; land-use outputs were developed for the four main SRES storylines and a base case. The model is run for the  U.S. and output is available for each scenario by decade to 2100. In addition to maps of HD across the conterminous U.S., this project also generated maps of impervious surface (IS) cover based on the HD projections. This report describes the modeling methodology for some initial analyses using ICLUS outputs and makes recommendations for further research.


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Publication Date: June 2009

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  • Scenario planning


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