Centuries of colonization and development have extensively and intensively transformed North American landscapes, particularly in the East, where ecosystems were rapidly converted for agriculture, forestry, mining, and residential use. Colonial towns and cities first appeared along coastlines and rivers before spreading farther inland and west, eventually to be connected by highways, railroads, and power grids. These changes have greatly altered hydrology and accelerated soil erosion across much of the continent, and they have shifted plant and animal communities, introduced contaminants, transformed carbon and nutrient budgets, and altered solute concentrations in water bodies.
Kumar, P., Herndon, E., and Richter D. (2020): Critical Agents of Change at Earth’s Surface. Eos. DOI: 10.1029/2020EO149750
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.