A gradient analysis on urban sprawl and urban landscape pattern between 1985 and 2000 in the Pearl River Delta, China

  • Erfu Dai
  • Zhuo Wu
  • Xiaodian Du
Research Article


Urbanization is an irreversible trend worldwide, especially in rapidly developing China. Accelerated urbanization has resulted in rapid urban sprawl and urban landscape pattern changes. Quantifying the spatiotemporal dynamics of urban land use and landscape pattern not only can reveal the characteristics of social transfer and economic development, but also can provide insights into the driving mechanisms of land use changes. In this study, we integrated remote sensing (RS), geographic information system (GIS), landscape metrics, and gradient analysis to quantitatively compare the spatiotemporal dynamics of land use, urban sprawl, and landscape pattern for nine cities in the Pearl River Delta from 1985‒2000. For the whole study region, urbanization was obvious. The results show an increase in urban buildup land and shrinkage of cropland in the Pearl River Delta. However, the nine cities differed greatly in terms of the process and magnitude of urban sprawl for both the spatial and temporal dimensions. This was most evident for the cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Gradient analysis on urban landscape changes could deepen understanding of the stages of urban development and provide a scientific foundation for future urban planning and land management strategies in China.


urbanization urban sprawl landscape pattern gradient analysis Pearl River Delta in China 


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This research was supported by the National Key Basic Research Program of China (No. 2015CB452702), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41571098, 41530749, and 41371196), Key Programs of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ZDRW-ZS- 2016-6-4) and A Major Consulting Project of Strategic Development Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. Y02015003). There is no conflict of interest in this manuscript. We gratefully acknowledge the anonymous reviewers for spending their valuable time and providing constructive comments and suggestions on this manuscript.


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© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Beijing No.65 Middle SchoolBeijingChina

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