Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub


    The objective of this study was to examine the impacts of urbanization on gross primary productivity (GPP) and the interactions between carbon and water fluxes, including precipitation, evapotranspiration (ET), and water yield (Q). A water-centric ecosystem model, Water Supply Stress Index model (WaSSI) that operates at the 12- digit (81,900 watersheds) Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) scale for the conterminous United States (CONUS) during 2000–2010, 2000–2050, and 2000–2100 was used. Linear regression and causal-based models were then applied to identify key factors controlling urbanization impact on GPP. Simulations of GPP patterns compared favorably with a global, 0.05-degree product of solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF). We found that total CONUS GPP declined from 8.68 Pg C yr−1 in 2000, to 8.54 Pg C yr−1 in 2010, to 8.36 Pg C yr−1 in 2050, and to 8.13 Pg C yr−1 in 2100. Total GPP decreased from 6.81 Pg C yr−1 to 6.26 Pg C yr−1 for those watersheds affected by urbanization (~55,000). Total CONUS Q increased from 2.03 × 106 million m3 yr−1 in 2000, to 2.04 ×106 million m3 yr−1 in 2010, to 2.06 × 106 million m3 yr−1 in 2050, and 2.09 ×106 million m3 yr−1 in 2100, while Q increased from 1.68 × 106 million m3 yr−1 to 1.74 × 106 million m3 yr−1 for urbanized watersheds alone (~55,000). Although total CONUS ΔGPP was less than 0.55 Pg C yr−1, or<8%, large changes (ΔGPP>300 g C m−2 yr−1) were found in 245, 1984, and 5655 of the 81,900 watersheds by 2010, 2050 and 2100, respectively. Overall, the impacts of urbanization on GPP in the CONUS were influenced by background climate, previous land cover characteristics, and the magnitudes of land use change. Effective integrated watershed management that attempts to minimize the negative ecological and environmental impacts of urbanization must consider regional hydrologic differences and fit local climatic and watershed conditions.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Li, Cheng; Sun, Ge; Cohen, Erika; Zhang, Yindan; Xiao, Jingfeng; McNulty, Steven G.; Meentemeyer, Ross K. 2020. Modeling the impacts of urbanization on watershed-scale gross primary productivity and tradeoffs with water yield across the conterminous United States. Journal of Hydrology. 583: 124581-.


    Google Scholar


    Carbon balance, Water balance, Urban sprawl, Ecosystem model, Causal analysis

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page