1. School of Resource and Environmental Sciences, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430079, China 2. Key Laboratory of Geographic Information System, Ministry of Education, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430079, China 3. Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong 999077, China
Global cities are stepping into the metropolitan era at a high speed. Studying the process of urban expansion in metropolitan areas is of great significance for understanding its future growth trend and regional sustainable development. However, urban expansion in metropolitan area, especially regional comparative analysis, has not been extensively understood. Taking three metropolitan areas—Tokyo, New York, and Shanghai—as examples, we obtained Landsat images in three time periods between 1990 and 2015 (circa 1990, 2000, and 2014). Using gradients and grid analysis and applying urban land density function and urban expansion index, we analyzed the spatiotemporal differences of urban expansion in two time periods from multiple perspectives. We focused on the quantitative changes and spatiotemporal distributions of built-up land, as well as urban form changes. The results show that: 1) Boundaries of these metropolitan areas were expanding and built-up land continued to grow during the study period. The built-up land area in Tokyo, New York, and Shanghai increased by 63%, 53% and 233%, respectively, over the study period. Shanghai experienced intense expansion while urban expansion in New York stagnated during the later period. 2) The density of built-up land in these metropolitan areas gradually decreases with the distance from the city center. The growth of the radii is most obvious in urban core and urban fringe, and the urban forms all tend to be compact. 3) Spatiotemporal heterogeneity of new construction land is apparent. In Tokyo, construction of new urban areas is continuous in the suburban region. In New York, some regional sub-centers with potential for growth were still expanding but the rate gradually slowed, while in Shanghai the peripheral areas of the urban core area had grown rapidly and progressively advanced to the urban fringe. 4) Regional expansion of the metropolitan areas has successively experienced high-speed growth, slow growth, and stagnation period. The expansion process manifests itself as urban core expansion, sub-center and new urban area construction, then gradually forms a stable polycentric structure.
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