Coastal Impervious Cover and Watershed Scale: Implications for Environmental Management, New Hanover County, North Carolina

Coastal Impervious Cover and Watershed Scale: Implications for Environmental Management, New Hanover County, North Carolina

Michael T. Griffin (East Carolina University, USA), James Dean Edwards Jr. (University of South Carolina, USA) and Thomas R. Allen (East Carolina University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3427-3.ch009
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Abstract

Environmental planners seek techniques that will enable them to analyze impervious cover to develop sound management plans for coastal regions. The spatial scale in which impervious cover has traditionally been widely analyzed is mismatched to the fine-scale resolution needed for local environmental management. This study examines impervious cover in New Hanover County, North Carolina using LiDAR derived subwatersheds and United States Geological Survey (USGS) 14-digit hydrologic unit watersheds to evaluate potential scale-dependency of impervious cover estimates. Spatial analysis of impervious cover across multi-scale watersheds indicates that fine scale subwatersheds exhibit patterns not revealed with coarser watersheds. Spatial and cartographic analyses suggest that localized impervious development and its expansion in first-order drainages originating in coastal lagoon watersheds is more appropriately analyzed using fine-scale, LiDAR-derived watersheds. Results stress the importance of using scale in watershed management and hydrogeomorphic context to aid planners when making decisions involving impervious cover.
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Impacts And Feedbacks On Local Hydro-Climatology

Local hydro-climatological feedbacks may arise from impervious surfaces impacting hydrology directly via soil moisture. If precipitation does not infiltrate the soil, soil moisture status for that region decreases. When soil moisture decreases, evapotranspiration also decreases (Praskievicz & Chang, 2009). As a result of the decrease in evapotranspiration, the atmospheric moisture content may also decrease, which could lead to less precipitation recycling for the region. Precipitation recycling refers to the redistribution of water on a local scale that was evaporated from the surface (Brubaker, 1993). Therefore, as evapotranspiration decreases so could the local precipitation. This potential decrease in local precipitation could negatively impact the fresh water availability for the region. However, water quality impacts arising from additional impervious cover are more commonly noticed.

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