PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (1): 88-100.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2019.01.008

• Specical Column: Coordinated Development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Multi-scaling allometric analysis of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei urban system based on nighttime light data

Yuqing LONG(), Yanguang CHEN*()   

  1. Department of Urban and Economic Geography, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2018-03-21 Revised:2018-08-12 Online:2019-01-28 Published:2019-01-22
  • Contact: Yanguang CHEN;
  • Supported by:
    Major Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 41590843.


The spatial-temporal evolution of urban systems is a complex scale-free dynamic process, which can be described quantitatively by allometric scaling index. In this study, the multi-scaling allometric analysis method was employed to analyze the relative development characteristics and the spatial heterogeneity pattern of the main cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region based on the calibration results of the nighttime light data from 1992 to 2013. The main findings are as follows: 1) The limitations on spatial development of big cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region were increasing. Although the absolute development levels of big cities such as Beijing, Tianjin, and Tangshan were higher than medium-sized and small cities, large cities were close to the limit of environmental carrying capacity; smaller cities such as Sanhe, Qian'an, and Langfang had grown rapidly in the 22 years. 2) Cities with relatively high growth advantage show a zonal distribution from northeast to southwest. These small cities are located in the space between the big cities. Two principal conclusions can be drawn as below: 1) The trend of urban change in Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei is relatively balanced. Heterogeneity of the spatial structure has gradually weakened, and the development of the whole urban system tends to evolve into a relatively homogeneous state. 2) The key of spatial optimization in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is to unify the two extremes of cites. The large cities with absolute high development levels and the small cities with relatively high growth rates should be integrated into a self-organized framework. The nighttime light data can be used to characterize the allometric scaling relations between elements of urban systems and to explain the formation mechanism of spatial heterogeneity.

Key words: urban system, nighttime light data, allometric scaling, fractal, fractal dimensions, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region