Quantifying land cover in a semi-arid region of Texas



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Texas A&M University


Changes with land cover and land use are closely integrated with water and other ecological processes at the land surface. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the Edwards Aquifer region of southcentral Texas. The Edwards Aquifer contributing and recharge zones cover approximately 18,000 square kilometers in parts of 15 counties in Texas and includes San Antonio and Austin, the nation's eighth and nineteenth largest cities, respectively. Population growth within the counties that intersect the Edwards Aquifer contributing and recharge zones has taken place over the last two decades, with the logical translation being an expanded infrastructure. This implies that a greater amount of impervious surface coverage and other land cover changes have occurred. This work quantified the changes in land cover within the Edwards Aquifer contributing and recharge zones between the years 1986 and 2000. Increasing trends in impervious surface area and woodland growth were identified. Additionally, a new ArcView software tool was developed to process SSURGO soil data for use within the ArcView SWAT model. Hydrologic modeling for the Upper Sabinal River watershed, located within the Edwards Aquifer region, revealed that the high resolution SSURGO data produces different results when used in place of the existing STATSGO soils data. Finally, an index of urbanization was developed and evaluated to assist investigators in identifying potential areas of urbanization.