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Implications of Using 2 m versus 30 m Spatial Resolution Data for Suburban Residential Land Change Modeling

S. D. Blanchard1,2*,R. G. Pontius Jr.1 and K. M. Urban3

  1. Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, Worcester MA 01610, USA
  2. Department of Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management, College of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley CA 94720, USA
  3. School of Earth Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford CA 94305, USA

*Corresponding author. Email:


This study assesses the advantages and disadvantages of using 2 m spatial resolution data versus 30 m resolution data for a simulation model of land-use and land-cover change (LUCC). The model projects LUCC from 2005 to 2055 in the town of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, USA. This article describes four scenario storylines and then projects land-use and land-cover under each of the four scenarios with 2 m data and again with 30 m data. The disagreement between the 2 m output and its corresponding 30 m output ranges between 5.7% and 11.0% of the town. The disagreement due to allocation over small distances is greater than the disagreement due to the quantity of new residential growth. The projected quantities of new residential land-use in 2055 differ between the two resolutions by 1% of the town, whereas the visual differences in the spatial allocations are distinct and substantial. The results for this case study show that 30 m resolution data provides several practical and theoretical advantages over 2 m resolution data, due mainly to the fact that the 30 m resolution data match more closely the size of the patches of change.

Keywords: disagreement, GEOMOD, GIS, land-use and land-cover change (LUCC), model, resolution, scale, scenario

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