Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

U.S. constructed area approaches the size of Ohio


  • Christopher D. Elvidge,

  • Cristina Milesi,

  • John B. Dietz,

  • Benjamin T. Tuttle,

  • Paul C. Sutton,

  • Ramakrishna Nemani,

  • James E. Vogelmann


The construction and maintenance of impervious surfaces—buildings, roads, parking lots, roofs, etc.—constitute a major human alteration of the land surface, changing the local hydrology, climate, and carbon cycling. Three types of national coverage data were used to model the spatial distribution and density of the impervious surface area (ISA) for the conterminous United States. The results (Figure 1) indicate that total ISA of the 48 states and Washington, D.C. is 112,610 km2 (±12,725 km2), which is slightly smaller than the state of Ohio (116,534 km2) and slightly larger than the area of herbaceous wetlands (98,460 km2) of the conterminous United States [Vogelmann et al., 2001].