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Unit 5

5.10 Impacts of Urbanization

2 min readmay 6, 2020

Mark Little


AP Environmental Science ♻️

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Urbanization is an increase in the number of people living in cities and towns. With more people in cities and towns there are changes in the land use and economic development in the area.  Two potential reasons for the increase in urbanization include more opportunities for employment, and potential better schooling.  
Urbanization affects a natural biogeochemical cycles with the changing balance of increased human populations.   

Impact to Natural Cycles

Because of the increased number of people in an area, the natural resources in the area are stressed, such as the availability of freshwater. Urbanization affects the nitrogen cycle by influencing plant growth by a change in nitrogen availability in soils. The water cycle is impacted by the decrease in the area of land where water can percolate into the ground and that decreases the amount of available groundwater. Parking lots and roads are examples of structures that prevent water from seeping into the soil. The carbon cycle is impacted by the burning of petroleum based energy sources or fossil fuels that increase the amount of atmospheric CO2. In addition to creating more CO2, the process of building man made structures results in deforestation, further reducing the number of plants to capture the CO2.

Urban Sprawl

When urban growth spreads to rural areas and seems to have no limits in the urban areas, it can be called urban sprawl. The perception is that there is very little planning for the expanding commercial and housing areas. This unplanned growth puts a lot of stress on the environment and often leads to environmental problems like water pollution, reduction of available water supply, habitat loss and problems with proper waste disposal. 🎥 Watch: Environmental Science Stream - Sustainability

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