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Sustainability 2016, 8(1), 41; doi:10.3390/su8010041

General Spatiotemporal Patterns of Urbanization: An Examination of 16 World Cities

Center for Human-Environment System Sustainability (CHESS), State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
School of Life Sciences and School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Yehua Dennis Wei
Received: 18 November 2015 / Revised: 27 December 2015 / Accepted: 29 December 2015 / Published: 4 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Land and Sustainable Development)
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Urbanization is the most dramatic form of land use change that has profoundly influenced environmental and socioeconomic conditions around the world. To assess these impacts and promote urban sustainability, a better understanding of urbanization patterns is needed. Recent studies have suggested several spatiotemporal patterns of urbanization, but their generality is yet to be adequately tested with long-term data. Thus, the main goal of our study was two-fold: (1) to examine the spatiotemporal patterns of urbanization of 16 world cities over a period of 200 years (1800–2000); and (2) to test four prominent hypotheses of urbanization patterns. Using a set of landscape metrics, we quantified temporal changes in the urban landscape pattern of the 16 cities and examined the four hypotheses individually. Our results show that these cities exhibit several common urbanization patterns: the urban landscape becomes compositionally more diverse, structurally more fragmented and geometrically more complex as urbanization progresses. Our study also suggests that urbanization is a process of shifting dominance among three urban growth modes: infilling, edge expanding and leapfrogging. However, idiosyncrasies do exist for individual cities, as detailed attributes of urbanization patterns often depend on the environmental and socioeconomic settings of cities. In addition, the choice of specific landscape metrics and the scales of analysis both influence the urbanization patterns revealed. Our study examined the urbanization patterns, for the first time, on long-term and global scales. The findings shed new light on the patterns and processes of urbanization, with implications for future studies of the ecology, planning and sustainability of cities. View Full-Text
Keywords: urbanization patterns; world cities; urban growth modes; diffusion-coalescence hypothesis; landscape metrics; landscape fragmentation urbanization patterns; world cities; urban growth modes; diffusion-coalescence hypothesis; landscape metrics; landscape fragmentation

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Liu, Z.; He, C.; Wu, J. General Spatiotemporal Patterns of Urbanization: An Examination of 16 World Cities. Sustainability 2016, 8, 41.

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