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The graphic at the left pretty much sums up my current research as a Research Physical Scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey. I've been at USGS EROS (Earth Resources Observation and Science) since 1993, and during that time, my research has focused on the mapping, analysis, and projection of land-use and land-cover change. When I started in 1993, I used satellite imagery to map the land covers of the Earth's surface...for example, "Agriculture", Forest", "Urban", "Wetland", etc. As my career progressed, I worked on a project that looked at historical land-cover change for the United States.
Starting around 2006, I began a new line of research, trying to project what future landscapes might look like. The graphic at the left is typical of the types of projected land-cover maps that my team produces. This is an animation for the Kansas City area, where red represents urban land covers. Kansas City is the large red blob on the right edge. This animation represents projected land-cover change for one scenario from 2006 through 2100. The legend to the right provides the legend for the different land cover types being projected.
It is rather amazing, and somewhat disheartening, to think of projected future population growth, and the resultant pressures that population growth is likely to place on the Earth's natural resources. For example, the tan color on the animation represents natural grasslands. Note that by 2100, most of the natural grassland in this area has been replaced by crops, hay land, or urban development. It doesn't paint a pretty picture for the region's wildlife, or for other components of the natural ecosystem.
This is why I strongly believe in the research my group at USGS EROS is doing. It's only by looking to the future that we can adequately plan for the potential negative consequences of our footprint on the planet. I also believe animations like the one shown above are wonderful for demonstrating to the general public what our future may hold.
Below are some of the professional publications related to my work, if you'd like more information on the type of work I do.
Sohl, T.L., Sleeter, B.M., Sayler, K.L., Bouchard, M.A., Reker, R.R., Bennett, S.L., Sleeter, R.R., Kanengieter, R.L., and Zhu, Z., 2012. Spatially explicit land-use and land-cover scenarios for the Great Plains of the United States. Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment 153: 1 - 15.
Sohl, T.L., and Sohl., L.B. 2012. Land-use Change in the Atlantic Coastal Pine Barrens. Geographical Review: 102(2): 180-201.
Sohl, T.L., Sleeter, B.M., Zhu, Z., Sayler, K.L., Bennett, S., Bouchard, M., Reker, R., Hawbaker, T., Wein, A., Liu, S., Kanengieter, R., and Acevedo, W., 2012. A land--use and land-cover modeling strategy to support a national assessment of carbon stocks and fluxes. Applie Geography 34: 111 - 124.
Sleeter, B.M., Sohl, T.L., Bouchard, M.A., Reker, R.R., Soulard, C.E., Acevedo, W., Griffith, G.E., Sleeter, R.R., Auch, R.F., Sayler, K.L., Prisely, S, and Zhu, Z., 2012. Scenarios of land use and land cover change in the conterminous United States: Utilizing the special report on emission scenarios at ecoregional scales. Global Environmental Change http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2012.03.008
Sohl, T.L., Loveland, T.R., Sleeter, B.M., Sayler, K.L., and Barnes, C.A., 2010. Addressing foundational elements of regional land-use change forecasting. Landscape Ecology 25: 233-247.
Zhao, S., Liu, S., Li, Z., and Sohl, T.L., 2010. Federal Land Management, Carbon Sequestration, and Climate Change in the Southeastern U.S.: A Case Study with Fort Benning. Environmental Science and Technology 44: 992-997.
Zhao, S., Liu, S., Li, Z., and Sohl, T.L., 2010. A spatial resolution threshold of land cover in estimating terrestrial carbon sequestration in four counties in Georgia and Alabama, USA. Biogeosciences 7: 71-80.
Sohl, T., and Sayler, K., 2008. Using the FORE-SCE model to project land-cover change in the southeastern United States. Ecological Modelling 219: 49-65.
Sohl., T.L., Sayler, K.L., Drummond, M.A., and Loveland, T.R., 2007. The FORE-SCE model: A practical approach for projecting land cover change using scenario-based modeling. Journal of Land Use Science 2(2): 103-126.
Stehman, S.V., Sohl, T.L., and Loveland, T.R. 2005. An evaluation of sampling strategies to improve precision of estimates of gross change in land use and land cover. International Journal of Remote Sensing 26(22): 4941-4957.
Sohl, T.L., Gallant, A.L., and Loveland, T.R., 2004. The characteristics and interpretability of land surface change and implications for project design. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 70(4): 439-448.
Gallant, A.L., Loveland, T.R., Sohl, T.L., and Napton, D.E., 2004. Using an Ecoregion Framework to Analyze Land-cover and Land-use Dynamics. Environmental Management 34(Supl. 1): S89-S110.
Stehman, S.V., Sohl, T.L., and Loveland, T.R., 2003. Statistical sampling to characterize recent United States land-cover change. Remote Sensing of Environment 86: 517-529.
Griffith, J.A., Stehman, S.V., Sohl, T.L., and Loveland, T.R., 2003. Detecting trends in landscape pattern metrics over a 20-year period using a sampling-basd monitoring programme. International Journal of Remote Sensing 24(1): 175-181.
Loveland, T.R., Sohl, T.L., Stehman, S.V., Gallant, A.L., Sayler, K.L., and Napton, D.E., 2002. A strategy for estimating the rates of recent United States land-cover changes. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 68(10): 1091-1099.
Sohl, T.L., Loveland, T.R., Sayler, K.L., Gallant, A.L., Auch, R., and Napton, D.E., 2000. The Land Cover Trends Project: A strategy for monitoring land cover change at a national scale. IGARSS Conference, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Sohl, T.L., 1999. Change Analysis in the United Arab Emirates: An Investigation of Techniques. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 65(4): 475-484.
Vogelmann, J.E., Sohl, T,L,, and Howard, S.M., 1998. Regional Characterization of Land Cover using Multiple Sources of Data. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 64(1): 45-57.
Vogelmann, J.E., Sohl, T.L., Campbell, P.V., and Shaw, D.M., 1998. Regional land cover characterization using Landsat Thematic Mapper data and ancillary data sources. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 51: 415-428.
Sohl, T.L., and Dwyer, J.L., 1996. North American landscape characterization project: The production of a continental scale three-decade Landsat data set. GeoCarto International 13(3): 43-51.
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