Characterizing Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Urbanization in China Using Time Series of DMSP/OLS Night Light Data
Stable nighttime light (NTL) data, derived from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program's Operational Linescan System (DMSP/OLS), are typically considered a proxy measure of the dynamics of human settlements and have been extensively used to quantitative estimates of demographic variables, economic activity, and land-use change in previous studies at both regional and global scales. The utility of DMSP data for characterizing spatio-temporal trends in urban development at a local scale,
... t a local scale, however, has received less attention. In this study, we utilize a time series of DMSP data to examine the spatio-temporal characteristics of urban development in 285 Chinese cities from 1992 to 2009, at both the local and national levels. We compare linear models and piecewise linear models to identify the turning points of nighttime lights and calculate the trends in nighttime light growth at the pixel level. An unsupervised classification is applied to identify the patterns in the nighttime light time series quantitatively. Our results indicate that nighttime light brightness in most areas of China exhibit a positive, multi-stage process over the last two decades; however, the average trends in nighttime light growth differ significantly. Through the piecewise linear model, we identify the saturation of nighttime light brightness in the urban center and significant increases in suburban areas. The maps of turning points indicate the greater the distance to the city center or sub-center, the later the turning point occurs. Six patterns derived from the classification illustrate the various characteristics of the nighttime light time series from the local to the national level. The OPEN ACCESS Remote Sens. 2014, 6 7709 results portray spatially explicit patterns and conspicuous temporal trends of urbanization dynamics for individual Chinese cities from 1992 to 2009.