Land Change Science/Land System Science

B. L. Turner, Darla K. Munroe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


Land change science (LCS), now internationally relabeled land system science (LSS), is a transdisciplinary field of study that seeks to observe, monitor, explain, and model land covers and uses and their changes. Spawned by research on global environmental change, LCS/LSS has morphed into international research efforts addressing sustainability. Land cover refers to the biophysical condition (e.g., forest, grassland, and paved surface) of some portion of the terrestrial surface of the Earth, and land use is the human intent or activity associated with that condition (e.g., reserve, pasture, and settlement). Detecting and monitoring changes in land cover, largely from satellite information, LCS/LSS examines the societal structures and individual behavior that determine land uses, the impacts of those uses on the structure and function of the biophysical subsystem, and the environment feedbacks, foremost environmental (or ecosystem) services, from that subsystem to land uses and the human subsystem. It treats land uses and covers individually or in aggregation (land mosaics) as social–environmental (or –ecological) systems in order to provide insights about processes and outcomes of the interactions between the two subsystems, including questions about their resilience, vulnerability, and sustainability. LCS/LSS integrates the spatial and human–environmental sciences within and beyond geography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Human Geography, Second Edition
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780081022955
ISBN (Print)9780081022962
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Land change
  • Land systems
  • Land use
  • Models
  • Social–environmental systems
  • Sustainability science
  • Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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