Special Issue "Building Regional Sustainability in Urban Agglomeration: Theories, Methodologies, and Applications"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ji Han
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University, China
Interests: urban ecology; regional sustainability; low carbon city and transport planning; urban and regional material; energy metabolism
Dr. Gang Liu
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology and Environmental Technology, University of Southern Denmark (SDU), Campusvej 55, DK-5230 Odense M, Denmark
Interests: Material and energy flow analysis; Industrial Ecology; Urban metabolism; Circular economy; Sustainable resource and waste management; Critical infrastructure and built environment stocks; Complexity and linkages of sustainability
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Daniele La Rosa
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture, University of Catania, Catania, Italy
Interests: environmental impact assessment; sustainability; Green-based solutions; urban studies; remote sensing
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Xia Li
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Geographical Sciences, East China Normal University, China
Interests: geographical information science; remote sensing and its applications;gGeographical processes simulation and complex spatial optimization

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue focuses on a systematic and holistic investigation of urban agglomeration (UA) studies with respect to theory, method, and application. It fits well into the enduring research scopes of urbanization, landscape change, urban planning, complexity science, and the emerging scopes of urban ecology, socio-environmental impacts and management, data-intensive science, and sustainability science. The goals of this Special Issue are to:

  • Develop theoretical foundations and methodological frameworks for contemporary UA studies.
  • Deepen our understanding of spatial patterns and driving mechanisms of UA.
  • Explore space-time complexity in UA to achieve regional sustainability.
  • Investigate interactions between human activities and socio-ecological impacts associated with UA.
  • Provoke implications for the sustainable planning and management of UA with respect to urbanization processes and socio-ecological impacts.

In the past few decades, a series of studies on UA have been conducted by geographers, economists, and urban planners in developed and developing countries. These UA studies are summarized in terms of concept delimitation, spatial patterns and structures, driving mechanism, and sustainability assessment. As global urbanization tends to shift from developed countries to developing economies, attention on UA becomes globalized. While most early studies on UA were conducted at conceptual or theoretical level, later or recent investigations focus on spatial patterns, driving mechanism, and their resulting impacts that affect sustainable development. Human knowledge about the genesis, trajectories, driving forces, socio-environmental impacts of UA, however, often lags behind their rapid urbanization process and remains limited. The Special Issue will enrich the knowledge of, and thus greatly facilitate, sustainable planning and management of UA regionally and globally. Further, we will target on the identification and evaluation of strengths and limitations in existing theories, methods, and applications of UA, so as to develop an overarching framework to guide the UA study into an emerging research frontier.

Dr. Ji Han
Prof. Gang Liu
Dr. Daniele La Rosa
Dr. Xia Li
Guest Editors

References:

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Wu, F., 1998, Polycentric urban development and land-use change in a transitional economy: The case of Guangzhou, Environment and Planning A 30(6):1077-1100.

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Keywords

  • urban agglomeration
  • regional sustainability
  • human-nature interaction
  • socio-ecological impacts
  • space-time complexity
  • sustainable planning and management

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Acquiring and Geo-Visualizing Aviation Carbon Footprint among Urban Agglomerations in China
Sustainability 2019, 11(17), 4515; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174515 - 21 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This paper had two main purposes. One was to estimate annual total aviation CO2 emissions from/among all key urban agglomerations (UAs) in China and its changes patterns from 2007 to 2014. The second one was to visualize the aviation carbon footprints among [...] Read more.
This paper had two main purposes. One was to estimate annual total aviation CO2 emissions from/among all key urban agglomerations (UAs) in China and its changes patterns from 2007 to 2014. The second one was to visualize the aviation carbon footprints among the UAs by using a chord diagram plot. This study also used Kaya identity to decompose the contribution of potential driving forces behind the aviation CO2 emissions using Kaya identity. Especially, it decomposed factor CO2/gross domestic product (GDP), which is wildly used in Kaya identity analysis, into factor CO2/value-added (VA) and factor VA/GDP. Here, VA represents the tourism value added of the corresponding flights. The main results were: (1) The UAs developed a much bigger and stronger carbon network among themselves. (2) There was also an expanding of the flows to less densely populated or less developed UAs. However, the regional disparity increased significantly. (3) Compared with the driving factor of population, the GDP per capita impacted the emission amount more significantly. Our contribution had two folds. First, it advances current knowledge by fulfilling the research gap between transport emissions and UA relationship. Second, it provides a new approach to visualizing the aviation carbon footprints as well as the relationships among UAs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Integrating Cellular Automata with Unsupervised Deep-Learning Algorithms: A Case Study of Urban-Sprawl Simulation in the Jingjintang Urban Agglomeration, China
Sustainability 2019, 11(9), 2464; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11092464 - 26 Apr 2019
Abstract
An effective simulation of the urban sprawl in an urban agglomeration is conducive to making regional policies. Previous studies verified the effectiveness of the cellular-automata (CA) model in simulating urban sprawl, and emphasized that the definition of transition rules is the key to [...] Read more.
An effective simulation of the urban sprawl in an urban agglomeration is conducive to making regional policies. Previous studies verified the effectiveness of the cellular-automata (CA) model in simulating urban sprawl, and emphasized that the definition of transition rules is the key to the construction of the CA model. However, existing simulation models based on CA are limited in defining complex transition rules. The aim of this study was to investigate the capability of two unsupervised deep-learning algorithms (deep-belief networks, DBN) and stacked denoising autoencoders (SDA) to define transition rules in order to obtain more accurate simulated results. Choosing the Beijing–Tianjin–Tangshan urban agglomeration as the study area, two proposed models (DBN–CA and SDA–CA) were implemented in this area for simulating its urban sprawl during 2000–2010. Additionally, two traditional machine-learning-based CA models were built for comparative experiments. The implementation results demonstrated that integrating CA with unsupervised deep-learning algorithms is more suitable and accurate than traditional machine-learning algorithms on both the cell level and pattern level. Meanwhile, compared with the DBN–CA, the SDA–CA model had better accuracy in both aspects. Therefore, the unsupervised deep-learning-based CA model, especially SDA–CA, is a novel approach for simulating urban sprawl and also potentially for other complex geographical phenomena. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Spatial Dynamics of Intercity Technology Transfer Networks in China’s Three Urban Agglomerations: A Patent Transaction Perspective
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1647; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061647 - 19 Mar 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Technology transfer has become a vital pipeline for acquiring external knowledge. The purpose of this paper is to portray the spatial dynamics of intercity technology transfer networks in China’s three urban agglomerations based on patent right transaction data from 2008 to 2015. The [...] Read more.
Technology transfer has become a vital pipeline for acquiring external knowledge. The purpose of this paper is to portray the spatial dynamics of intercity technology transfer networks in China’s three urban agglomerations based on patent right transaction data from 2008 to 2015. The integration of social networks and spatial visualization is used to explore spatial networks and influencing variables of the networks. The results demonstrate that Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen are emerging as hubs in the three urban agglomerations. The spatial distributions of degree and weighted degree are significantly heterogeneous and hierarchical. The larger cities play the role of a knowledge and technology incubator, highly related to their economic scale, research and development (R&D) input, and innovation output. The evolution of intercity technology linkages is driven by the networking mechanisms of preferential attachment, hierarchical and contagious diffusion, path dependence, and path breaking. Moreover, we found that the geographical proximity and technology gaps are determinants of the strength of intercity technology linkages. As a result, it has been discovered that the network in the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei agglomeration is organized in a tree network, while the Yangtze River Delta features a polycentric network and the Pearl River Delta has multi-star characteristics. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Spatial Production and Governance of Urban Agglomeration in China 2000–2015: Yangtze River Delta as a Case
Sustainability 2019, 11(5), 1343; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11051343 - 04 Mar 2019
Abstract
Urban agglomeration plays an essential role in world urbanization. Urban agglomerations in developing countries like China, although have the same characteristics as the developed countries because of globalization, often show a more different and dynamic process. Urban agglomerations in China are generally dominated [...] Read more.
Urban agglomeration plays an essential role in world urbanization. Urban agglomerations in developing countries like China, although have the same characteristics as the developed countries because of globalization, often show a more different and dynamic process. Urban agglomerations in China are generally dominated and planned as a mode of organizing and improving urbanization by the Chinese government; however, in different regions, urban agglomeration has different trajectories based on a different historical and geographical context. The paper applies a new social theory, production of space, into explaining the development and governance of urban agglomeration in China, which is effective and meaningful to help understand the developmental process of urban agglomeration and urbanization. The theory of spatial production focuses on the relation between society and space, in which ‘society’ has a broad meaning and can be divided into three factors or parts: power, capital, and class. This paper chooses YRD (the Yangtze River Delta) as a typical case and designs a simple index system to reflect the influences of these three factors on urban agglomeration. The governance of urban agglomeration will be indicated by national or regional policies analysis. According to such a synthesis method of index assessment, GIS (Geographic Information System), and policies analysis, we find Chinese urban agglomeration is a capital-intensive region, and the national policies tend to regard it as an intensive investment object. Planning and governance from top-down power have more influence than the market in the evolving process of urban agglomeration. There is a contradiction between spatial production and people-oriented urbanization, with the latter more important than the former, but China’s urbanization often emphasizes the former. It is high time to link the techniques and methods such as GIS to the social theories like the production of space in urban studies. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Interaction Effects between Technology-Driven Urbanization and Eco-Environment: Evidence from China’s East Zhejiang Region
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 836; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030836 - 06 Feb 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
With the rapid pace of urbanization in populous regions, the conflict between economic development and eco-environment becomes increasingly notable, inducing policy makers to implement new technological solutions for regional sustainable growth. Choosing the East Zhejiang region in China as a case study, this [...] Read more.
With the rapid pace of urbanization in populous regions, the conflict between economic development and eco-environment becomes increasingly notable, inducing policy makers to implement new technological solutions for regional sustainable growth. Choosing the East Zhejiang region in China as a case study, this paper reveals the interaction effects between technology-driven urbanization and eco-environment, by compiling novel indexes for factors such as the degree of urbanization, environmental pressure, environmental protection, and environmental quality from 2005 to 2014, and adopting a data-intensive systemic approach. Differing from previous literature, an inverted “U” structure and panel vector autoregressive model are constructed to show that: (i) Given the acceleration of technology-driven urbanization, its surrounding eco-environment is still likely to be under greater pressure; (ii) the relationships between technology-driven urbanization and environmental factors in different regions are heterogeneous, either with a normal U-shaped curve or an inverted U-shaped curve; and (iii) the two-way interaction effects are significantly unbalanced, with long-term contribution rates of environmental quality and pressure on urbanization to be 57.8% and 78.88%, respectively, which is higher than the reversal effect. This study provides scientific reference for urban planning and advocates that more technological innovations should be implemented to help maintain sustainable urbanization processes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Interurban Consumption Flows of Urban Agglomeration in the Middle Reaches of the Yangtze River: A Network Approach
Sustainability 2019, 11(1), 268; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11010268 - 08 Jan 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Network analysis through the lens of traffic flows is becoming the focus of urban-region research in the context of globalization. This study examines the network relationship among 31 cities in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River from the perspective of consumption flow [...] Read more.
Network analysis through the lens of traffic flows is becoming the focus of urban-region research in the context of globalization. This study examines the network relationship among 31 cities in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River from the perspective of consumption flow that is serving as an increasingly important engine for China’s growth in general and regional momentum in particular. By tracing the directions and magnitudes of bank card transactions in 2016 as provided by Chinese UnionPay, this paper finds: (1) Three capital cities dominate both outward and inward flow networks and have net outflows, whereas others are featured with inward consumption flow; (2) Most interurban flows occur within provincial boundary, which leaves this whole region without a city-generating global impact; (3) Eight sub-networks composed of adjoining few cities can be further identified that have closer connections to the one containing capital city in that province. Based on these findings related to boundary effect, this paper concludes with a vision for more integrated consumption networks in the context of this region. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Urban Spatial Interaction Analysis Using Inter-City Transport Big Data: A Case Study of the Yangtze River Delta Urban Agglomeration of China
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4459; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124459 - 28 Nov 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
A better understanding of the urban spatial interaction is important for optimizing the spatial structure and layout of urban agglomeration (UA). We develop a crawler program to compile online big data for urban spatial interaction analysis. Differing from the previous studies, vectorial, realistic, [...] Read more.
A better understanding of the urban spatial interaction is important for optimizing the spatial structure and layout of urban agglomeration (UA). We develop a crawler program to compile online big data for urban spatial interaction analysis. Differing from the previous studies, vectorial, realistic, and high spatiotemporal resolution inter-city, bus-passenger-flow big data instead of statistical and modeled data are used for urban spatial interaction analysis. The Yangtze River Delta (YRD) is selected as a case study region to test the big data approach and to gain insights into the cities’ interaction in China’s largest UA. The results testified the superiorities of the big-data method over the traditional gravity model, confirmed some phenomena discussed or mentioned in the literature and regional plans regarding the urban interaction in YRD, derived policy implications for enhancing the sustainability of UA, and suggested some potentials for improving the limitations of the big-data method. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Factors Aggregating Ability and the Regional Differences among China’s Urban Agglomerations
Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 4179; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114179 - 13 Nov 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Continuous aggregation of socioeconomic factors is the key issue of sustainable development in urban agglomerations. To date, more attention has been paid to single urban agglomeration than to multiple agglomerations. In this paper, China’s 19 urban agglomerations were selected as the case study [...] Read more.
Continuous aggregation of socioeconomic factors is the key issue of sustainable development in urban agglomerations. To date, more attention has been paid to single urban agglomeration than to multiple agglomerations. In this paper, China’s 19 urban agglomerations were selected as the case study and their spatial differences in factors aggregating ability were portrayed comparatively. Firstly, the spatial pattern of urban factors aggregating ability is relatively well distributed in all China’s cases, most noticeably in the Yangtze River Delta urban agglomeration, closely followed by the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and the Pearl River Delta urban agglomerations. However, more significant differences on factors aggregating ability are noticeably seen between cities than among urban agglomerations. Meanwhile, the rank-size structure distribution of factors aggregating ability in China’s 19 cases is in line with the Zipf’s law of their urban systems, and divided into three types: Optimized, balanced, and discrete. Furthermore, the urban factors aggregation ability in one urban agglomeration is roughly negatively correlated with its primacy ratio of factors aggregating ability distribution. Lastly, urban agglomerations with higher average values of factors aggregating ability are concentrated on the three major urban agglomerations: The Yangtze River Delta, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei and the Pearl River Delta. Otherwise, high-high clusters in the three urban agglomerations are distinctly observed as well. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
How to Measure Urban Land Use Intensity? A Perspective of Multi-Objective Decision in Wuhan Urban Agglomeration, China
Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 3874; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10113874 - 25 Oct 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Urban land intensive use is an important part of regional planning and plays an important role in the sustainable development of cities. However, the research on how to measure urban land use intensity is still controversial. This paper gives a perspective of multi-objective [...] Read more.
Urban land intensive use is an important part of regional planning and plays an important role in the sustainable development of cities. However, the research on how to measure urban land use intensity is still controversial. This paper gives a perspective of multi-objective decision to explore the criterion of urban land use intensity in the process of urbanization. The theory of factor substitution was applied to analyze the mechanism of urban land intensive use in different urbanization stage. Additionally, the matching degree model (MDM), curve estimation model, and multi-objective programming model were employed in the case study of Wuhan urban agglomeration to give a multi-objective decision on urban land intensive use. The results show that the level of urban land intensive use lagging behind the level of urbanization development in more than 60% of the counties. When the level of urbanization is less than 30%, 30–70% and greater than 70%, the optimal intensity of urban land use characterized by fixed investments of unit land is 2.6252, 4.6132, and 6.7648 million RMB respectively. Based on optimal intensity, the counties in Wuhan urban agglomeration were divided into key development zone and optimized development zone. Finally, different management strategies were designed for different zones for urban land intensive use. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Research on Geospatial Association of the Urban Agglomeration around the South China Sea Based on Marine Traffic Flow
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3346; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093346 - 19 Sep 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Studying the geospatial association within the urban agglomeration around the South China Sea can provide a basis for understanding the internal development of the China-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Area (CAFTA) and provide ideas for promoting economic and trade cooperation [...] Read more.
Studying the geospatial association within the urban agglomeration around the South China Sea can provide a basis for understanding the internal development of the China-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Free Trade Area (CAFTA) and provide ideas for promoting economic and trade cooperation among cities in the region. The purpose of this paper was to reflect the characteristics of the urban agglomeration association network based on big traffic data. Based on trajectory data mining and complex network analysis methods, the automatic identification system (AIS) data was used to construct the traffic flow association network of the urban agglomeration around the South China Sea and then analysis and evaluation were carried out in three aspects: Spatial distribution characteristics of marine traffic flow, analysis of spatial hierarchy and internal difference analysis of the urban agglomeration. The results show the following: (1) The distribution of marine traffic flow within the urban agglomeration around the South China Sea is characterized by polarization and localization and shows a specific power-law distribution; (2) there is a close relationship within the urban agglomeration and the core urban and the marginal urban agglomerations were apparent; (3) subgroup division of urban agglomeration around the South China Sea shows an evident geographic agglomeration phenomenon and there were significant differences between the level of economic development among subgroups; and (4) relative to static factors such as population size and economic aggregate, dynamic flow of information and capital traffic flow plays a more important role in the spatial correlation between cities. Strengthening the links among the three layers of core-intermediate-edge cities through trade and investment means enhancing cooperation among cities within the urban agglomeration and ultimately promoting sustainable regional development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Comparative Analysis of Urban Heat Island Intensities in Chinese, Russian, and DPRK Regions across the Transnational Urban Agglomeration of the Tumen River in Northeast Asia
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2637; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082637 - 27 Jul 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
Quantification of the spatial pattern of urban heat island intensities across the transnational urban agglomeration of the Tumen River is important for the promotion of sustainable regional development. This study employed Landsat images and MODIS LST data obtained in 2016 to determine the [...] Read more.
Quantification of the spatial pattern of urban heat island intensities across the transnational urban agglomeration of the Tumen River is important for the promotion of sustainable regional development. This study employed Landsat images and MODIS LST data obtained in 2016 to determine the intensity of urban heat islands in this region, enabling direct comparison of data from the sub-regions of China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and Russia. The average urban heat island intensity for the region was found to be 1.0 °C, with the highest intensity of 3.0 °C occurring during the summer time. The intensity of urban heat islands on the Chinese side was higher than on the other two sides, with city size, socio-economic development levels and vegetation coverage significantly affect their intensity. Urban heat island effects in Chinese cities in the region contribute increases in maximum summer temperatures and the number of high-temperature days that pose a threat to the health of their residents. The factors that influence urban heat island intensities in these cities and the impacts of urban heat island effects on the quality of life and health of residents are discussed. Therefore, it is desirable to reduce the impact of urban heat island effects on cities in the region by increasing the area of green spaces they contain, as well as controlling their size and population. Full article
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