Main content area

Urban expansion patterns of 291 Chinese cities, 1990–2015

Huang, Xin, Xia, Jiahao, Xiao, Rui, He, Tao
International journal of digital earth 2019 v.12 no.1 pp. 62-77
cities, cropland, landscapes, urbanization, China
China has experienced rapid and massive urban expansion in recent decades. To address the opportunities and challenges posed by urbanization, it is important to investigate this process. Although many studies have characterized China’s urbanization, mainly based on individual cities or urban agglomerations, few studies have compared the urban expansion patterns among cities of different regions and sizes at a national scale. Additionally, the source of the newly developed urban land has largely been ignored in previous research. To fill these gaps, we provide a comprehensive view of the growth patterns of 291 Chinese cities during 1990–2015, quantifying the rates, spatial forms, and corresponding landscape characteristics of the urban expansion. More importantly, we further investigate what their new urban land is converted from. Key findings include: (1) the annual expansion (AE) and annual growth rate (AGR) of all 291 cities were 1869.81 km² and 4.81% during 1990–2015; (2) cropland and rural settlements were the predominant source, accounting for 65.22% and 17.49% of the new urban land during 1990–2015; (3) edge-expansion was the dominant growth form for most cities, followed by infilling and leapfrogging growth; and (4) the landscape characteristics of the occupied cropland differed across various cities.