RESOURCES -> Presentations and Poster Sessions

Delaware Watershed Research Conference– Philadelphia, PA
The effects of future urbanization and energy infrastructure expansion on forest fragmentation (11/19/2019)- presentation slides
A. Yáñez Morillo, C. Jantz

Our objective is to analyze changes in forest cover and structure in the Delaware River Basin. Specifically, we (1) measure and locate expected forest loss and quantify the risk of loss in 2100 related to future urban development given “sprawl” and “smart growth” scenarios; we also consider the impact of future energy infrastructure by incorporating planned electric transmission lines, (2) identify spatial configuration patterns and verify whether future patterns of change conform or contrast with existing ones, and (3) consider whether less fragmented landscapes are able to better absorb the effects of different forest loss patterns or are more susceptible to drastic changes than more fragmented landscapes.

The basin was divided into 930 analysis units (landscapes) using a 6×6 km square grid, and each landscape was classified based on its land cover composition and configuration. Similar landscapes were then grouped into 72 spatially continuous units that share urban pressure and a similar degree of aggregation-fragmentation.

Morphological Spatial Pattern Analysis (MPSA) was used to divide forest patches into structural classes (core area, edge, corridors, etc.) Synthetic metrics were then calculated by weighting the structural classes based on their ecological role. These metrics are useful in differentiating aggregation and fragmentation patterns due to their sensitivity to different aspects of fragmentation, such as size distribution, border density, and the spatial arrangement of fragments.

In our projections of future growth, there is a basin-wide increase in urbanized area and transmission lines of 4.5% to 8.5%. This increase represents a basin-wide loss of 1.83% to 4.19% of current forest area, a value that increases significantly in the Piedmont and Coastal Plains, which sees 7.2% to 14.4% forest loss and up to 70% loss in local landscapes. The most dramatic changes occur along the eastern boundary of the basin due to the influence of NYC and its metropolitan area, highlighting that dynamics generated outside the basin can cause significant impacts.

While expansion of urban and suburban areas in the rural landscape is already occurring in the river basin, our forecasts demonstrate new patterns when growth occurs in forested landscapes. Urban growth generates a more compact and aggregated pattern than that generated by agricultural activities. Although currently marginal, the new patterns are expected to increase in frequency as urban-forest contact areas increase, producing important ecological implications. This transformation is of the utmost importance, as it will affect well-conserved landscapes: since an increasingly urban landscape is more restrictive and limiting for ecological processes, it will impact habitat quality and connectivity.


Delaware Watershed Research Conference– Philadelphia, PA
Bioclimatic modeling of tree species distributions in the Delaware Watershed (11/19/2018)
P. Jantz 


U.S. IALE Annual Meeting– Fort Collins, CO
Analyzing forest fragmentation in the Delaware River watershed, 2011 – 2100 (4/8/19)- poster
A. Yáñez Morillo, C. Jantz, J. Percey

It is accepted that human activities and the dynamics of change in land use, and in particular the expansion of urban land and energy infrastructure, play a main role in driving landscape change and forest fragmentation in the eastern United States. Habitat fragmentation decreases the viability of some species populations and affects the organization and functioning of communities and natural ecosystems, making them more vulnerable and promoting biodiversity loss. It is therefore necessary that future models of regional urban land cover change consider possible effects on the natural ecosystems that support urban land use. In this study, we compare a set of landscape metrics related to fragmentation and connectivity of forests in two future urban land cover change scenarios in the Delaware River watershed. The first scenario assumes a continuation of post-World War II patterns of urban decentralization (“urban sprawl”), with increasing population and commensurate urbanization occurring particularly along major road corridors. The second scenario assumes widespread adoption of “smart growth” policies, and future urbanization is forecasted to occur in more compact patterns close to consolidated urban or town centers. The stochastic urban model we used, SLEUTH, generated 100 separate realizations of future urbanization for each scenario, into which we also assess the impact of future energy infrastructure on forests by incorporating planned electricity transmission line construction. To perform our analysis, we analyzed changes in forest pattern and extent for a range of landscapes and development intensity using Morphological Spatial Pattern Analysis (MSPA) software. This assessment was performed across all 100 realizations, allowing us to calculate average changes with confidence intervals for each scenario and assess forest vulnerability of different landscape patterns.

Keywords: forest fragmentation, urban modeling, energy infrastructure, Morphological Spatial Pattern Analysis, Delaware River  


Delaware Watershed Research Conference– Philadelphia, PA
Multi-scale Assessment of Potential Climate Change Impacts to Eastern U.S. Tree Species (11/29/2018)- presentation slides
P. Jantz, C. Jantz*, T. Hawkins

The temperate forests of the eastern U.S. host a rich variety of tree species arrayed across broad temperature and precipitation gradients. Millions of people depend on these forests for ecosystem services, the delivery of which may be disrupted by rapid climate change. Species distribution models that link species observations to current or recent historical climate conditions have emerged as useful tools for understanding potential species responses to future climate change. Spatial scale, modeling approach, and input variables may influence model outputs and therefore our assessments of species vulnerability to climate change. Here we describe a modeling exercise using two climate datasets to model the distributions of several important eastern tree species at multiple scales. In addition, we used a hydrologic model to investigate the combined influence of temperature and precipitation on species distributions. Preliminary results indicate similar driving variables at 800 m and 12 km but with differences in correlation strength and importance in models. For some species, moisture availability variables showed promise for enhancing model performance. 


American Water Resources Association 53rd Annual Conference- Baltimore, MD
The Impact of Future Climate Variability on the Hydrology of the Delaware River Basin (11/7/2018)- presentation slides
T. Hawkins

The Delaware River Basin provides water for over 15 million people for drinking, agriculture, and industrial uses. A gridded model was developed to simulate the hydrology of the Delaware River Basin. CMIP5 climate projections, downscaled to 12 km resolution, were used to drive the model to assess changes in streamflow and watershed-wide hydrology. Evaluation statistics indicated good model performance. Annual average temperature basin-wide is projected to increase by the end of the century. Correspondingly, snowfall and snowpack are projected to decrease with the greatest changes seen in higher elevation and more northerly locations. A novel technique for more accurately representing potential evapotranspiration was employed and produced increases in potential and therefore also, actual evapotranspiration. Annual total precipitation is projected to increase. Due to warmer conditions and increased evapotranspiration, subsurface moisture is projected to decrease during the warmer months and the time to fully recharge increases and in some cases, never actually occurs. Streamflow, as an integration of all the hydrologic components over the entire basin is projected to increase slightly to moderately by the end of the century. In addition to better understanding the future general hydrology of the Delaware River Basin, results from this project are being used to help forecast future flood potential and forest ecosystem health for the basin. 


American Water Resources Association 53rd Annual Conference- Baltimore, MD
Impact of changing climate and land cover on floods in the Delaware River Basin (11/7/2018)- presentation slides
C. Woltemade 

Changes in climate and expansion of urban areas are expected to affect flood magnitude and frequency in the Delaware River Basin (DRB). Such impacts were investigated for five case-study sub-watersheds representing a range of scale, topography, land cover, and climate: Tremper Kill, NY; Pennypack Creek, PA; White Clay Creek, DE; and the Lehigh River at Walnutport and at Bethlehem, PA. The HEC-HMS rainfall-runoff model was calibrated for each watershed over a range of historic flood magnitudes using the curve number loss method and Muskingum routing. Model parameters and precipitation time series were then adjusted to reflect forecast conditions in 2030, 2060, and 2090. Future climate conditions included estimates of changes in rainfall, snowmelt, and soil moisture based on four different assemblages of global climate models illustrating low- to high-emissions scenarios. Land cover projections included forecasts of land conversion from agriculture and forest to low-, medium-, and high-intensity developed land under “maximum sprawl” and “smart growth” scenarios. Flood model results across the full range of possible future conditions indicate that the magnitude of future floods could increase or decrease, with most future scenarios suggesting substantial increase in flood magnitude as watersheds respond to greater precipitation and expansion of urban land cover. Changes in flood magnitude vary with watershed scale, geographic location, flood recurrence interval, antecedent moisture conditions, emissions scenarios, patterns of urban development, and time frame. 


US-IALE 2018 Annual Meeting– Chicago, IL
Evaluating Energy Infrastructure Land Use in the Delaware River Basin (4/11/2018)- presentation slides
C. Lucas*, C. Jantz 

Due to the growing demand for electricity, energy “sprawl” has become the number one driver of land use change in the United States. As part of a larger study of land use change in the Delaware River Basin (DRB), this study aims to provide baseline estimation of the land area occupied by energy infrastructure and associated right-of-way. Our assessment addressed electric infrastructure, pipelines, transmission lines, wind farms, and commercial solar. The calculations from this study relate to the land area currently associated with energy infrastructure, including underground infrastructure. The analysis reveals that the current land occupied by energy infrastructure in the DRB totals 1,121 km2. The highest contributor to the total is the electric transmission infrastructure needed to support energy distribution. There are over 27,000 km of transmission lines alone, which occupy a land area of 885 km2, while natural gas pipelines make up the second highest land area devoted to transmission services (over 9,000 km of pipeline, occupying 128 km2 of land). Renewables, especially solar, are rapidly expanding in the region. There is currently 5 km2 of land covered with solar panels in the Basin, while wind infrastructure is negligible (0.08 km2) – most large-scale wind farms in the region are located just outside of the Basin. Within the basin, new transmission lines and gas pipelines, and the rapid expansion of commercial solar (still in its nascent phase), make energy infrastructure a primary land use issue in the DRB. As such, this baseline analysis is an important step to support Basin-wide planning. 


Delaware Watershed Research Conference- Philadelphia, PA
Past, current, and future land cover change impacts on forest ecosystems and hydrology in the Delaware River Basin (11/8/2017)
C. Jantz*, A. Price 

To understand how the multiple stressors of  land cover change and climate change will impact forest ecosystems and hydrology in the future, we must look at historical patterns and present-day conditions. Our team is developing a coupled modeling framework based on four existing models: future land use/land cover change model (C.A. Jantz et al. 2015), gridded basin-wide hydrologic water budget model (Hawkins 2015), the HEC-HMS rainfall-runoff model, and a suite of distribution models for 40 eastern U.S. tree species (P.A. Jantz et al. in press). We will present the status of this project, including our analysis of historical flood events in the Delaware River Basin (DRB) from 1950-2000 (Woltemade 2016), and how we plan to build off our recent work to develop high-resolution land use and land cover data and  alternative future land use scenarios (DRB2070 v.2: baseline, corridors, and centers). This aggregation of historic, current, and future data will support adaptive management efforts in the DRB by providing consistent, high-resolution datasets required to understand synergistic effects of climate and land use change. 


US-IALE 2017 Annual Meeting– Baltimore, MD
DRB 2070: Lessons learned from basin-wide land use change forecasting (4/12/2017)
C. Jantz*, S. Drzyzga, P. Claggett, A. Yáñez Morillo, A. Price, J. Barth, D. Minnick, C. Lucas 

This paper provides an overview of a recently completed project to forecast urban land use change to the year 2070 within the Delaware River Basin, a major river basin located on the densely populated East Coast of the United States. Among other ecosystem services, the DRB provides drinking water to the major East Coast cities of Philadelphia and New York. With urbanization pressure in the southern part of the DRB, and recreational and energy infrastructure development in the north, drivers of land use change are heterogenous and, in some cases, contentious. We engaged with dozens of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, end-users, and scientists across the DRB to analyze historic land use and socio-economic change trends, gather quantitative forecast data, and develop narratives for future land use and socio-economic trajectories. We present an overview and focus on some of the key lessons learned from this effort: 1) Broad stakeholder engagement represents a critical investment of time and resources that pays off in terms of model development, dissemination, and adoption; 2) Given the short time frame of this 2.5-year study, taking an informed “triage” approach was necessary and comes with both costs and benefits; 3) For experts and non-experts alike, imagining a future more than 30 years out is a difficult but necessary challenge. 


US-IALE 2017 Annual Meeting– Baltimore, MD
A community-driven approach to developing future land use scenarios at the river basin scale: An example from the Delaware River Basin (4/12/2017)
A. Price*, C. Jantz,  S. Drzyzga, A. Yáñez Morillo, D. Minnick, J. Barth, C. Lucas 

The Delaware River Basin (DRB) region hosts more than 8.2 million residents and provides ecosystem services that support multiple – and sometimes competing – commercial, industrial, recreational and residential uses. Land use change scenarios are plausible stories about how land uses in a region might change over time. Our approach to forecasting land use change in the DRB out to 2070 is both data driven (i.e. informed by quantitative analyses of past land use change and best available data for future trends) and community driven (i.e. using stakeholder input to develop narratives of future land use scenarios). We developed and followed a tiered and iterative approach for engaging community stakeholders. First, we asked stakeholders to share perceptions of future opportunities and challenges using a series of focus groups and a basin-wide survey. Next, we held a focused workshop with a representative group of key experts. Using both qualitative and quantitative data as guidance, we collaboratively wrote a “recent trends” land use change scenario and two alternative future scenarios, each with divergent population forecasts, development patterns, and conservation values. Information gathered for these narratives was also structured by our quantitative and spatially explicit modeling framework, so that the narratives could easily be translated into modeling inputs. As we have moved into the quantitative modeling phase, we continue to consult our end users to ensure that the land use change model outputs are both useful and useable, a time consuming but important process to maximize adoption and use. 


US-IALE 2017 Annual Meeting– Baltimore, MD
Modeling suitability for urban development in the Delaware River Basin (4/12/16)
A. Yáñez Morillo*, S. Drzyzga, C. Jantz, J. Barth, A. Price 

Urban growth models (UGMs), such as SLEUTH, have been used successfully to predict future land use change scenarios for optimal watershed management, protection, and landscape planning. A common input to many of these models is a layer that describes suitability for urban development; this layer, which is a model in and of itself, becomes critical for the UGM’s accuracy and credibility. The inherent complexity of urban systems is especially challenging to model in broad scale studies, such as large river basins, where rural, suburban, urban and metropolitan systems can coexist and interact. In these cases, researchers and decision-makers need to develop new approaches that address drivers of urban development across multiple spatial and temporal scales. We developed a theoretically informed hierarchical methodology where suitability factors such as topography, accessibility, and land protection are combined with growth drivers, such as population and employment. Our resulting suitability model was successfully validated based on historic data, and our framework allows us to incorporate forecast data from divergent land use scenarios of the future. The suitability modeling framework was developed and applied in Delaware River Basin and Delmarva Peninsula to build several exclusion-attraction scenarios to feed the SLEUTH model. 


US-IALE 2017 Annual Meeting– Baltimore, MD
Modeling the extent of future storm surge inundation under two sea level rise scenarios (4/10/17)- Poster Session
J. Barth*, S. Drzyzga 

Flooding from storm surge and sea level rise pose significant threats to life and property in coastal communities and have far reaching social and economic consequences farther inland. Stakeholders in an urban land use change modeling project recently expressed a desire to include the possible extent of storm surge inundation under future sea level conditions. Geographic information systems provide valuable tools for assessing future risks of flooding due to storm surge and sea level rise, however, datasets that combine sea level rise and storm surge are limited in availability and restricted in use by the appropriateness of modeled scenarios. This study modifies Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes (SLOSH) Maximum of the Maximum Envelope of High Water (MOM) surfaces to include two sea level rise scenarios, 0.6m and 1.8m, for New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the Delmarva Peninsula. Three storm surge surfaces corresponding to Category 1, 2, and 4 hurricanes were interpolated using Ordinary Kriging and then combined with the sea level rise scenarios to produce six inundation rasters at 10m resolution. The produced rasters will be used as an exclusion layer in an urban land change model. This product also increases the number of options available to regional planners performing initial assessments of future storm surge inundation scenarios, and will be made available as a stand-alone product via the Pennsylvania Spatial Data Access (PASDA) portal. 


Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting- Boston, MA
Flood hydrology in the Delaware River Basin: Geographic variability and institutional adaptation to changes in climate and land cover (4/5/2017)
C. Woltemade* 

Major floods in the Delaware River Basin (DRB) have been associated with tropical cyclones, late-winter and early-spring extra-tropical cyclones (including rain-on-snow events), and summer-fall convective storms. This research investigated historical floods equaling or exceeding the 10-year event as recorded at USGS gages for 33 sub-watersheds of the DRB, classifying over 300 events according to flood generating mechanism. Tropical cyclones generated the majority of flood events with recurrence intervals greater than 50 years, as well as a substantial number of lower magnitude floods. Results indicate that flood-generating mechanisms vary with watershed scale, local significance of snowpack, topography, and land cover. Future changes in temperature, precipitation, and land cover will affect flooding differently across the DRB. Institutional responses aimed at reducing flood risk need to acknowledge uncertainly and change in flood magnitude and frequency, with local land use controls a potentially powerful risk management tool. 


11th Annual Susquehanna River Symposium– Lewisburg, PA
“A Tale of Two Rivers: The Susquehanna & Delaware”
Land Use Dynamics in the Delaware River Basin (11/12/16)
C. Jantz*, S. Drzyzga, A. Yáñez Morillo, A. Price 

The Delaware River Basin is an important region that hosts more than 8.2 million residents and provides ecosystem services that support multiple commercial, industrial, recreational and residential uses. The purpose of the project is to provide useful tools to decision makers across the 43 counties that intersect the basin in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. The tools include: a) a
high-resolution (1m) LiDAR-based land cover dataset for all 43 counties that cover, in whole or in part, the basin; b) geoprocessing tools for evaluating and visualizing alternate scenarios of future land cover changes; and c) a feasibility study that gauges the willingness and abilities of stakeholder groups to participate in a long-term monitoring program. This project is one of many funded by the William Penn Foundation to develop tools and on-the-ground projects in support of Basin-wide water quality restoration and protection. In this paper we will describe our overall project, which includes collaborations with the University of Vermont and the USGS, as well as what we have learned so far regarding land use dynamics in the Basin.



4th Annual Delaware River Watershed Forum– Bluebell, PA
Basin-wide data products and models to support climate change planning (9/20/16)
C. Jantz* 

With support from the William Penn Foundation, we are developing a land cover mapping, modeling, and monitoring system for the Delaware River Basin in support of maintaining and restoring water resources. Our high-resolution (1m x 1m) LiDAR-based land cover data and alternative future land use scenarios will be available for the entire watershed. Under a new grant from the Delaware Watershed Research Fund, next year we will begin work to connect models of land cover change, climate change, hydrology, and tree species to address the impact of future development and environmental change in the DRB. The purpose of our project is to provide synoptic, consistent, and reliable data to support science-based decision making and long-term planning across the 43 counties that intersect the basin. 


2016 International Society for Landscape, Place, & Material Culture Conference- Bowling Green, KY
Perceptions of landscape values and threats in the Delaware River Basin (9/16/16)
C. Jantz*, A. Price, S. Drzyzga, D. Minnick 

In the Delaware River Basin, water is the center of $25 billion in annual economic activity, including recreation, water quality, water supply, hunting and fishing, ecotourism, silvaculture, agriculture, open space, and port activities. Landscape values underpin many of these activities and reflect competing cultural perspectives on how resources should be used or managed. This research explores how conservation practitioners, land use planners, and other related professionals value landscapes across the 13,500 square mile river basin, with a focus on what they perceive are the basin’s greatest strengths and weaknesses, and future challenges and opportunities. Data from a series of 5 workshops held through the basin were analyzed using text data mining software. Data were also collected via surveys and analyzed quantitatively. Results revealed a series of complex and interrelated resource management themes, ranging from the importance of local food production to funding for technology and data collection. Strengths and weaknesses were often acknowledged to be “two sides of the same coin,” with perceived economic opportunity often competing with landscape preservation goals. This is most apparent in the energy sector, where development of solar and wind farms and exploitation of natural gas resources competes with a desire to preserve intact forests and beautiful vistas. We also found geographic differences in landscape values and perceived threats. These results illustrate 1) landscape values reflect competing views on resource management; 2) perceived strengths and weaknesses are geographically variable, indicating that they are contextualized by the day-to-day experiences of individuals. These findings have implications for how basin-wide management goals and strategies can be effectively defined and communicated. 


2016 PA GIS Conference– State College, PA
Delaware River Basin Project (5/17/16)
S. Drzyzga*, C. Jantz 

This 2-year project aims to develop a land cover mapping, modeling, and monitoring system for the Delaware River Basin in support of maintaining and restoring water resources. The project is addressing specific needs that were identified by the Science of Source Water Workshop, which was organized by the Pinchot Institute, the Common Waters Fund, and other stakeholders. The presenters will share information about all three phases of the project include: a) high resolution land use/land cover mapping; b) forecast modeling of land use/land cover change; and c) long-term monitoring; as well as information about the data products we are sharing via PASDA and other clearinghouses. 


US-IALE 2016 Annual Meeting- Asheville, NC
Developing future land use scenarios for the Delaware River Basin (4/4/16)
C. Jantz*, S. Drzyzga, A. Yáñez Morillo, A. Price, J. Barth 

The Delaware River Basin (DRB) is an important region that hosts more than 8.2 million residents and provides ecosystem services that support multiple commercial, industrial, recreational and residential uses. Watershed planning is particularly difficult because so few watershed boundaries are co-located with or nested within political boundaries. Maintaining and restoring water quality requires balancing stakeholder interests and considering alternate short- and long-term futures. To address this need, we are developing future land use scenarios for the DRB out to the year 2070. Our approach to forecasting land use change is both community driven (i.e. we incorporate information from a wide variety of stakeholder groups) and data driven, informed by quantitative analyses of past land use change and the best available data sources for future trends. Through a series of stakeholder workshops, we have learned that stakeholders: 1) perceive strongly that their regional identity is fragmented across multiple sectors: economics, land use change trajectories, land use management objectives, and water resource management objectives; 2) recognize several future opportunities (i.e., recreational development) and threats (i.e., climate change), but divergent opinions on how they might play out within the watershed. These perceptions are largely validated by our own analyses of employment, population, housing, and land use change trajectories, which reveal highly heterogeneous patterns. We present this foundational work and share some discussion of the next phase of our project: translating our workshop findings into scenario narratives and, ultimately, into quantitative modeling inputs. 


US-IALE 2016 Annual Meeting- Asheville, NC
The SLEUTH Wizard: Python scripts to automate the SLEUTH urban growth model (4/4/16)- Poster Session
A. Yáñez Morillo*, C. Jantz, T. Erickson 

SLEUTH (Clarke, Hoppen, and Gaydos 1997) is one of the more broadly applied models for the study of land use change and urban dynamics. When the model is being applied to a large region, it is often desirable to partition the study area into sub-regions, such as states, counties, or watersheds. This sub-regionalization greatly increases the workload, requiring the preparation of each sub-region’s input data sets and run parameters and then evaluating multiple output files for each sub-region. To solve this problem, we developed two Python scripts that automate much of the workflow, saving time and minimizing user error. To use the scrips, the user must first have all of the base data sets prepared for the entire study area. The first script uses arcpy to extract the information for user-specified sub-regions (e.g. counties or watersheds) and then stores it in the correct format, using the correct naming convention, in a directory system that is ready to use for SLEUTH. The second script, called SWizard, is able to perform calibration, validation, and prediction automatically depending on the user needs. To demonstrate the SWizard capabilities, we applied SLEUTH to the continental United States, using counties as our sub-regions, at a resolution of 360m. Extracting the input data for 3,109 counties took 1 hour 6 minutes, while running SWizard on a single Linux desktop computer took 19 hours and 23 minutes. We were thus able to model urban land change for the entire continental US in less than 24 hours. 


2015 Pennsylvania Geographical Society Conference– West Chester, PA
The Delaware River Basin Project (11/6/15)
S. Drzyzga*, C. Jantz, A. Yáñez Morillo, A. Price 

The Delaware River Basin Project ( is a collaborative effort among scientists at Shippensburg University, the University of Vermont, and the U.S. Geological Survey. The purpose of the project is to provide useful tools to decision makers across the 43 counties that intersect the basin in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. The tools include: a) a high-resolution (1m) LiDAR-based land cover dataset for all 43 counties that cover, in whole or in part, the basin; b) geoprocessing tools for evaluating and visualizing alternate scenarios of future land cover changes; and c) a feasibility study that gauges the willingness and abilities of stakeholder groups to participate in a long-term monitoring program. The land cover data will be made available to the general public at no charge. The Delaware River Basin is an important region that hosts more than 8.2 million residents and provides ecosystem services that support multiple commercial, industrial, recreational and residential uses. Watershed planning is particularly difficult because so few watershed boundaries are co-located with or nested within political boundaries. Maintaining and restoring water quality requires balancing stakeholder interests and considering alternate short- and long-term futures. This paper describes the region and project in fuller detail.