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Metric categories
Landscape Characteristics
(metrics by 3 km2 polygons)

This set of metrics deals primarily with proportions of land cover, a commonly used measurement of overall environmental quality at regional scales.

Riparian Characteristics
(metrics by 3 km2 polygons)

This set of metrics focuses on proportions of land cover adjacent to and near streams. Proportions of land cover types in the riparian zone can be used to assess water quality and habitat impacts at multiple scales. Riparian zones high in forest and wetland cover are effective filters of excess runoff of fertilizer and other pollutants and provide high quality habitat for a variety of plant and animal species.

Human Stressors
(metrics by 3 km2 polygons)

Human land uses (agriculture and developed) usually produce higher levels of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus than natural land cover. In addition, human land uses increase the amount of impervious surfaces (roads, rooftops, parking lots, etc.), and increases the volume and force of precipitation runoff. Increased runoff leads to higher risk of flooding and also carries larger amounts of pollutants and sediment into surface waters.

Physical Characteristics
(metrics by 3 km2 polygons)

This set of metrics provide general physical descriptions of reporting units.

Soil / Landform
(metrics by 8-digit HUCs)

These metrics focus on soil erosion and sediment delivery and show the potential for quantitatively and qualitatively describing soil and landform characteristics within a landscape setting. The computing algorithms are primarily rooted in the technical literature of the RUSLE soil erosion modeling framework and the SEDMOD sedimentation framework. It is recommended that these erosion and sedimentation metrics be evaluated with an emphasis on qualitative, not quantitative, interpretation and assessment.

Environmental Sciences | Research & Development
National Exposure Research Laboratory
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