Sprawl in Atlanta, GA. Flickr/thisisbossi

Here comes Charlanta the Gargantua.

Southern city planners and conservationists, look alive: New predictions map the future spread of urban sprawl in Dixie, and it is immense. Basing their model on past growth patterns and locations of existing road networks, researchers at North Carolina State University projected the region’s expansion decades into the future. According to their forecast, the Southern urban footprint is expected to grow 101 percent to 192 percent.

Take a look at urban land cover in the South as of 2009:

Here's what that'll look like by 2060:

The South's explosive population growth over the past 60 years can only be expected to continue, the researchers report. And more likely than not, so will its typical development pattern of sprawling, automobile-dependent suburbs. Planners and city leaders should start acting now to managing infrastructure and natural resources in the area.

As our own Richard Florida indicated in March, the mega-region dubbed Char-lanta already has an economy larger than South Korea's, with more than a trillion dollars in output. We wonder which country's GNP it'll outsize by 2060, when it looks like this crazy fretwork:

'Char-lanta" includes Birmingham, Raleigh, and several other metros in addition to Charlotte and Atlanta.

(Top image courtesy of Flickr user thisisbossi.)

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