Landscape Ecology

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 765–782 | Cite as

The impact of urban expansion on the regional environment in Myanmar: a case study of two capital cities

  • Chuyuan WangEmail author
  • Soe W. Myint
  • Peilei Fan
  • Michelle Stuhlmacher
  • Jiachuan Yang
Research Article



This study examines the spatio-temporal patterns of urban expansion for Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, the former and new national capitals of Myanmar, and its impact on the regional environment between 2000 and 2013.


The objective is to examine different driving forces of urban expansion for Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, and their environmental consequences during Myanmar’s transitional economy.


Classified time-series Landsat images are used to evaluate urban expansion processes. Environmental parameters being evaluated in this study include five sets of remotely sensed MODIS land products that are land surface temperature (LST), percent tree cover (PTC), evapotranspiration (ET), terrestrial ecosystem net primary productivity (NPP), and aerosol optical depth (AOD). A time-series trend analysis technique is used to examine the environmental consequences.


The built-up areas in Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon exhibit exponential and polynomial increase, respectively. A 1% increase of built-up area could potentially cause an increase of daytime LST of 0.7 °C, a PTC loss of 2.3%, a decrease in NPP of 34.3 kg/m2, and an ET decrease of 42.2 mm for Yangon. Similarly, for Nay Pyi Taw, a 1% increase in built-up area could potentially cause a daytime LST increase of 0.3 °C, a nighttime LST increase of 0.06 °C, a PTC loss of 2.5%, a decrease in NPP of 15.1 kg/m2, and a decrease of 19.2 mm ET. No significant change was observed for AOD for either city.


Both cities have experienced extensive urban expansion but with different spatial and temporal characteristics, and their effects on the regional environment are different. Urban expansion of Nay Pyi Taw mainly was government-induced municipal infrastructure development. Yangon’s expansion is mainly caused by population pressure and migration from rural areas. The urban expansion in Yangon was mainly due to reconstruction and renovation, as well as infill development during the study period.


Myanmar Urbanization Landsat MODIS Regional environment 



This research is supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) ROSES program (NASA Award Number NNX15AD51G). Any views and opinions are those of the authors alone. The authors would like to thank all the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and suggestions on the earlier version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geographical Sciences and Urban PlanningArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.School of Planning, Design, and Construction (SPDC) & Center for Global Change and Earth Observations (CGCEO)Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built EnvironmentArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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