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Remote Sens. 2015, 7(2), 1721-1735; doi:10.3390/rs70201721

Dynamics of Urbanization Levels in China from 1992 to 2012: Perspective from DMSP/OLS Nighttime Light Data

1,2,†
,
1,†
,
1,* and 1,2,†
1
Center for Human-Environment System Sustainability, State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal University, 19 Xinjiekouwai Street, Beijing 100875, China
2
College of Resources Science & Technology, Beijing Normal University, 19 Xinjiekouwai Street, Beijing 100875, China
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Christopher Elvidge and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 10 November 2014 / Revised: 22 December 2014 / Accepted: 27 January 2015 / Published: 5 February 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing with Nighttime Lights)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [20265 KB, uploaded 5 February 2015]   |  

Abstract

The authenticity and reliability of urbanization levels measured by different indicators in China have not reached a consensus, which may impede our understanding of the process of urbanization and its impacts on the environment. The objective of this study was to describe a reliable method of estimating urbanization level based on the Operational Line-scan System (OLS) on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) nighttime light data and to analyze the dynamics of urbanization levels in China from 1992 to 2012. We calculated the comprehensive urbanization level at the national, provincial, and county scales using a compounded night light index (CNLI) and compared the change rate of CNLI with those of the other two conventional urbanization level indicators, proportion of the nonagricultural population and proportion of built-up area. Our results showed that CNLI derived from the DMSP/OLS data set provided a relatively reliable and accurate measure of the comprehensive urbanization level in China. During the last two decades, China has experienced continued and rapid urbanization with large regional variations. The CNLI increased 3.12 times, from 1.72 × 10−3 to 7.09 × 10−3. The annual increases of CNLI in eastern provinces were much faster than those in western provinces. In addition, we found that the rates of change in these three indicators were consistent for most provinces with the exception of the four municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing) and a few eastern coastal provinces (Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, and Guangdong). Because the imbalance among population growth, urban expansion and socioeconomic development may affect cities’ sustainable development, we should pay more attention to these regions with large disparities between different indicators. View Full-Text
Keywords: urbanization level; DMSP/OLS; compounded night light index; multi-scale; China urbanization level; DMSP/OLS; compounded night light index; multi-scale; China
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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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MDPI and ACS Style

Gao, B.; Huang, Q.; He, C.; Ma, Q. Dynamics of Urbanization Levels in China from 1992 to 2012: Perspective from DMSP/OLS Nighttime Light Data. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 1721-1735.

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