Spatial inequality of urban development may cause problems like inequality of living conditions and the lack of sustainability, drawing increasing academic interests and societal concerns. Previous studies based on statistical data can hardly reveal the interior mechanism of spatial inequality due to the limitation of statistical units, while the application of remote sensing data, such as nighttime light (NTL) data, provides an effective solution. In this study, based on the DMSP/OLS NTL data, the urbanization type of all towns in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban agglomeration was analyzed from the aspects of development level and speed. Meanwhile, spatial cluster analysis of development level by local Moran’s I was used to explore spatial inequality, and the trend was discussed by comparing the development characteristics on both sides of the transition line of different development levels (inequality boundary). The results showed that the development level of the whole region increased dramatically as the mean DN value increased by 65.99%, and 83.72% of the towns showed a positive development during 2000–2012. The spatial distribution of urbanization types showed that Beijing and Tianjin were at a high urbanization level with rapid speed of development, with the southern region having a medium development level and the northwestern region lagging behind. The spatial cluster analysis also revealed a gradually intensifying trend of inequality as the number of towns with balanced development reduced by 319 during 2000–2012, while the towns in the high-high areas increased by 99 and those in the low-low areas increased by 229. Moreover, the development speed inside the inequality boundary was obviously higher than that outside, indicating an increasingly serious situation for spatial inequality of urban development in the whole region.
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