Is Georgia shrinking? Census shows less land, more water

Is Georgia shrinking?

Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011 1:48 PM
Last updated Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 12:03 AM
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A new Census Bureau analysis shows Georgia has lost a lot of ground in the past decade – literally.

The Peach State’s land area shrank by 393 square miles – more than four times the size of Fort Gordon – from 2000 to 2010, according to the newest data, which showed a decline from 57,906.14 square miles in 2000 to 57,513.49.

South Carolina also lost ground – falling from 30,109.47 square miles in 2000 to 30,060.7 in 2010 – a decrease of 48.77 square miles.

Where did all that real estate go? Experts say it is still in the states where it belongs but is now categorized as being underwater.

Census figures from both states show an increase in water areas that roughly offsets the decline in land, but it doesn’t mean there are mammoth new lakes or that chunks of land are falling into waterways.

“The main difference from the last decade is an increase in technology,” said Jennifer Holland, a geographer and chief of geographic products for the Census Bureau.

The changes included a transition from a 1990s-vintage relative database to a newer, spatially accurate database that greatly refined the way geographic details are gathered and analyzed.

“We did a lot of spatial improvements, and we were working with local and state governments that had spatially accurate GIS files with very accurate data,” Holland said.

The new census also included water body data from the U.S. Geologic Survey.

“Before, we had rivers shown as lines, which don’t take up much area,” she said. “But when you take that line and reflect that it is 17 feet wide for the entire length of the river, that adds area, and that’s what really explains the difference.”

On paper, the loss of so much land seems startling, but is no cause for alarm.

“It’s nothing insidious and no, we haven’t been invaded by South Carolina,” said Mark Welford, a Georgia Sou­thern Uni­versity associate professor of geography. “It’s just purely technology, and going back and changing areas defined as land to water.”

Land area57,906.1457,513.49-392.65
Water area1,518.631,911.67+393.04
Total area59,424.7759,425.15+0.38
Land area30,109.4730,060.70-48.77
Water area1,910.731,959.79+49.06
Total area32,020.2032,020.49+0.29


Census Bureau Georgia facts

Census Bureau South Carolina facts

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Little Lamb
Little Lamb 12/11/11 - 05:57 pm
Boy, when they add in all the

Boy, when they add in all the land covered up by rising sea levels caused by man-made global warming, we will really be shrunk! Or is that "sunk"?

blues550 12/11/11 - 10:12 pm
Auntie Em! We're sinking!

Auntie Em! We're sinking! We're sinking!

blues550 12/11/11 - 10:13 pm
Columbia County going under!

Columbia County going under! Everyone to the boats! Cross barges in and tosses women and childfen overboard!!!!

BobW 12/14/11 - 10:57 am
No need to worry that Georgia

No need to worry that Georgia is sinking -- the South will rise again (so I hear).

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