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ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2017, 6(2), 55; doi:10.3390/ijgi6020055

Regions Set in Stone—Delimiting and Categorizing Regions in Europe by Settlement Patterns Derived from EO-Data

German Aerospace Center (DLR), Earth Observation Center (EOC), German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD), Oberpfaffenhofen, Wessling 82234, Germany
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Academic Editors: Songnian Li, Jun Chen and Wolfgang Kainz
Received: 24 November 2016 / Revised: 14 February 2017 / Accepted: 15 February 2017 / Published: 21 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Analysis and Applications of Global Land Cover Data)
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Abstract

The spatial patterns of landscapes are complex. Highly dense urban centers are not just mirrowed in a dichotomic sense by rural environments; landscapes are a spatially variable continuum. In this logic, nation-states (or any political or administrative unit) spatially integrate different types and physical appearances of land cover. Understanding regions in the sense that similar physical characteristics may construct alternative (natural) spatial entities which may sub-divide or cross-over adminstrative boundaries allows us to overcome common map projections. However, which indicators and which regional logics define and delimit regions is conceptually vague. With this paper we aim to add an empirical study to identify regional phenomena in Europe. To do so, we take advantage of a new data set from remote sensing, the Global Urban Footprint. It features European-wide consistent spatial information on settlement patterns. We use density and distribution of settlements as indicators for delimiting regions by similar characteristics. Our methodological approach classifies urban nodes (by settlement density and size), spans an unbounded soft space by the classification of spatial connectivity between nodes (by continuous settlement) and maps territorial entities (by density around nodes); the approach is following a space of place logic. From a geographic perspective we identify uneven development across Europe. The corridor streching from England via the Benelux areas via Germany, Switzerland, France to Northern Italy is mapped as the European backbone; however, new focal areas such as, e.g., towards eastern Europe are also detected. Applying a plausibility check reveals that the proxy settlement pattern corresponds well with regional conceptions presented in other studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: regional phenomena; remote sensing; global urban footprint; settlement pattern; urban nodes; Europe; mega-region; urban corridor; spatial analysis regional phenomena; remote sensing; global urban footprint; settlement pattern; urban nodes; Europe; mega-region; urban corridor; spatial analysis
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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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Taubenböck, H.; Ferstl, J.; Dech, S. Regions Set in Stone—Delimiting and Categorizing Regions in Europe by Settlement Patterns Derived from EO-Data. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2017, 6, 55.

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