It is important to analyze the expansion of an urban area and the factors that drive its expansion. Therefore, this study is based on Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Operational Linescan System (DMSP/OLS) night lighting data, using the landscape index, spatial expansion strength index, compactness index, urban land fractal index, elasticity coefficient, the standard deviation ellipse, spatial correlation analysis, and partial least squares regression to analyze the spatial and temporal evolution of urban land expansion and its driving factors in the Yangtze River Economic Belt (YREB) over a long period of time. The results show the following: Through the calculation of the eight landscape pattern indicators, we found that during the study period, the number of cities and towns and the area of urban built-up areas in the YREB are generally increasing. Furthermore, the variations in these landscape pattern indicators not only show more frequent exchanges and interactions between the cities and towns of the YREB, but also reflect significant instability and irregularity of the urbanization development in the YREB. The spatial expansion intensity indices of 1992–1999, 1999–2006, and 2006–2013 were 0.03, 0.16, and 0.34, respectively. On the whole, the urban compactness of the YREB decreased with time, and the fractal dimension increased slowly with time. Moreover, the long axis and the short axis of the standard deviation ellipse of the YREB underwent a small change during the inspection period. The spatial distribution generally showed the pattern of “southwest-north”. In terms of gravity shift, during the study period, the center of gravity moved from northeast to southwest. In addition, the Moran's I values for the four years of 1992, 1999, 2006, and 2013 were 0.451, 0.495, 0.506, and 0.424, respectively. Furthermore, by using correlation analysis, we find that the correlation coefficients between these four driving indicators and the urban expansion of the YREB were: 0.963, 0.998, 0.990 and 0.994, respectively. Through the use of partial least squares regression, we found that in 1992-2013, the four drivers of urban land expansion in the YREB were ranked as follows: gross domestic product (GDP), total fixed asset investment, urban population, total retail sales of consumer goods.
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