Detecting the spatial differentiation in settlement change rates during rapid urbanization in the Nanjing metropolitan region, China
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Urbanization produced significant landscape changes throughout the world. China has been experiencing accelerated urbanization during the past decades. Rapid land use/land over conversion occurred nationwide in urbanization, manifesting noteworthy characteristics of landscape dynamics. In this study, we investigated the spatial differentiation in settlement change rates among 1-km2 land units in the Nanjing metropolitan region, a representative rapidly urbanizing region in China. Remotely sensed detection using Landsat TM data of 1988–2006 showed that settlement increase, termed as positive growth (PG), was predominant in the study area; while settlement decrease, termed as negative growth (NG), also had a considerable proportion, which was mainly attributed to the increase of green lands and the shrink of rural settlements. Along the urban-rural gradient, PG and NG showed similar mono-peaked patterns. The urban fringe zone with a consistent width of about 4 km was identified as the hot zone of both PG and NG over the three unequal periods. For both PG and NG, high-rated changes tended to exhibit more aggregative patterns along the gradient in the urban fringe zone. Settlement changes showed apparent anisotropy across directions. The directional distribution of PG was significantly negatively correlated to the topographic variables, suggesting that the mountains constrained urban expansion in an “area-weighted inverse-distance power” form. Significant correlation between PG and NG in a time-lagged manner showed the “increase–decrease” fluctuation occurred in settlement changes, reflecting the “urban expansion–land reconfiguration” process in rapid urbanization in Nanjing.
KeywordsAnisotropy Sector approach Urban–rural gradient Urban fringe zone
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