Natural Hazards

, Volume 82, Issue 3, pp 1683–1702 | Cite as

The human dimension of visibility degradation in a compact city

  • Ricci P. H. Yue
  • Harry F. Lee
  • Melissa A. Hart
Original Paper


Different parts of the world have undergone visibility degradation in recent decades. The degradation of visibility is a potential threat to human health because it is closely related to the level of air pollutants. However, the manner in which people perceive the ‘low visibility’ condition in an urban setting still remains unexplored. In this study, we sought to address the above issue by examining the standard and the threshold of vista and also their determinants in a compact city. Urban visibility public preference investigation was conducted at the Peak, Hong Kong, between June 2012 and January 2013, with 1203 valid responses collected. Our results show that the standard of vista was around 4.95 km, while the absolute threshold (the starting point of the threshold) and the major threshold (the part which most respondents changed from acceptance to unacceptance) of vista were 14–10 and 5–3.5 km, respectively. We also found that the environmental setting and the prescribed function of place, instead of the demographic attributes and the way people perceive visibility degradation, were more imperative in accounting for people’s standard of vista. Survey locations and the associated trip purposes of respondents do not affect the standard of vista. This finding may have implications regarding the incorporation of stakeholders’ views in environmental management.


Visibility degradation Vista Perception Human dimension Urban 



This research was supported by the Hui Oi-Chow Trust Fund (201302172003 and 201502172003) and the Research Grants Council of The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (HKU758712H, HKU745113H, and HKU17610715). Last but not least, a special thanks to Prof. Thomas Glade and the two anonymous referees for their valuable comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricci P. H. Yue
    • 1
  • Harry F. Lee
    • 1
    • 2
  • Melissa A. Hart
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeographyThe University of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong
  2. 2.International Centre for China Development StudyThe University of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong
  3. 3.Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science and Climate Change Research CentreThe University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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