Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 57, Issue 22, pp 2802–2812 | Cite as

China’s urban expansion from 1990 to 2010 determined with satellite remote sensing

  • Lei Wang
  • CongCong Li
  • Qing Ying
  • Xiao Cheng
  • XiaoYi Wang
  • XueYan Li
  • LuanYun Hu
  • Lu Liang
  • Le Yu
  • HuaBing Huang
  • Peng Gong
Open Access
Article Special Topic Monitoring China’s Environmental Change with Remote Sensing


Based on the same data source of Landsat TM/ETM+ in 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, all urban built-up areas in China are mapped mainly by human interpretation. Mapping results were checked and refined by the same analyst with the same set of criteria. The results show during the last 20 years urban areas in China have increased exponentially more than 2 times. The greatest area of urbanization changed from Northeastern provinces in 1990s to the Southeast coast of China in Jiangsu, Guangdong, Shandong, and Zhejiang in 2010s. Urban areas are mostly converted from croplands in China. Approximately 17750 km2 croplands were converted into urban lands. Furthermore, the conversion from 2000 to 2010 doubled that from 1990 to 2000. During the 20 years, the most urbanized provinces are Jiangsu, Guangdong, Shandong and Zhejiang. We also analyzed built-up areas, gross domestic production (GDP) and population of 147 cities with a population of greater than 500000 in 2009. The result shows coastal cities and resource-based cities are with high economic efficiency per unit of built-up areas, resource-based cities have the highest population density, and the economic efficiency of most coastal provinces are lower than central provinces and Guangdong. The newly created urban expansion dataset is useful in many fields including trend analysis of urbanization in China; simulation of urban development dynamics; analysis of the relationship among urbanization, population growth and migration; studies of carbon emissions and climate change; adaptation of climate change; as well as land use and urban planning and management.


urban expansion land use cropland conversion built-up areas 

Supplementary material

11434_2012_5235_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (320 kb)
Supplementary material, approximately 320 KB.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lei Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • CongCong Li
    • 3
  • Qing Ying
    • 1
  • Xiao Cheng
    • 1
    • 3
  • XiaoYi Wang
    • 1
  • XueYan Li
    • 3
  • LuanYun Hu
    • 2
  • Lu Liang
    • 2
  • Le Yu
    • 2
  • HuaBing Huang
    • 1
  • Peng Gong
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Jointly Sponsored by Institute of Remote Sensing ApplicationsChinese Academy of Sciences, and Beijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Center for Earth System ScienceTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.College of Global Change and Earth SystemBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  4. 4.Division of Ecosystem ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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