Analyzing the Relationship between Developed Land Area and Nighttime Light Emissions of 36 Chinese Cities
The satellite-observed nighttime light emission (NTLE) data provide a new method for scrutinizing the footprint of human settlements. Changing NTLEs can be attributed to the direct/indirect influences of highly complex factors that are beyond the ability of simple statistical models to distinguish. Besides, the relatively coarse resolution of the NTLE products combined with light from human settlements may produce misleading results, as the relationship between spatiotemporal heterogeneity in
... e growth of developed land (e.g., urban and rural residences, shopping centers, industrial parks, mining plants, and transportation facilities) and the associated NTLEs has not been adequately analyzed. In this study, we developed a total nighttime brightness index (TotalNTBI) to measure the NTLEs with the defense meteorological satellite program/operational linescan system (DMSP/OLS) nighttime light data enhanced by sharpening the edges of the pixels. Thirty-six key cities in China were selected to investigate the relationship between the total developed land area and the associated TotalNTBI from 2000 to 2013 using panel regression and a simplified structural equation model (SEM). The results show that the overall trend in TotalNTBI agreed well with that of the total developed land area (mean adjusted R2 = 0.799). The panel regression models explained approximately 71.8% of the variance of total developed land area and 92.4% of the variance in TotalNTBI. The SEM revealed both the direct and indirect influences of independent variables on the total developed land area and the associated TotalNTBI. This study may provide useful information for decision-makers and researchers engaged in sustainable land development, urban management, and regional developmental inequality, focusing on recent issues, such as retrospective analysis of human footprint with sharpened nighttime NTLE products, the loss of natural and semi-natural land due to the sprawling developed land area indicated by intensively lit area, and the low efficiency of land development indicated by the anomalies of developed land area and associated NTBIs.