MAY 06, 2020 3:05 PM PDT

Mapping the Cities of the Future

A study published in the journal Nature Communications has predicted the cities of the future with data science. In an effort to map future urbanization, University of Delaware data scientist Jing Gao has analyzed 15 global data sets that show several different aspects of urbanization. 

One of the data sets that Gao and his colleague Brian O'Neill, a professor from the University of Denver,  utilized in their research is a global map series that highlights urban land change with precision up to 125 feet. The map is composed of satellite images of Earth over the past 40 years and it allowed the researchers to make historical comparisons in previously un-urbanized areas. 

Gao comments on one of the trends that the researchers found. "Mining historical data revealed that there are three different urbanization styles: urbanized, steadily urbanizing and rapidly urbanizing," explains Gao, who is an assistant professor of geography and spatial sciences in UD's College of Earth, Ocean and Environment. "And countries evolve from rapidly urbanizing to steadily urbanizing to urbanized over time."

From these findings, the team used machine learning to develop a global simulation model that is capable of forecasting urbanization decade by decade over the next century under differing social and economic conditions.

As Science Daily reports, the projections from the model show that “the total amount of urban areas on Earth can grow anywhere from 1.8 to 5.9-fold by 2100. On average, if past urbanization trends continue, the world will build approximately 618,000 square miles of new urban areas globally over the century. This is an area roughly 4.5 times the size of Germany, or, more than 225 million football fields."

Photo: Pixabay

The researchers hope that the projections for specific countries, like the US where urban expansion can be expected to grow four-fold under business-as-usual conditions, will act as warning alarms. "This is where our projections can inform policy and planning," said Gao. "These projections can help researchers and analysts understand how large-scale changes that occur over a long time period, such as climate change, may affect local urban areas."

That’s because, unfortunately, even under the most favorable socio-economic scenarios, most countries are projected to become urbanized by the end of the century.

Sources: Nature Communications, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
MAR 18, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAR 18, 2020
LEGO bricks can persist in the ocean for 1,300 years
Some might think that stepping on a LEGO brick is the worst thing about those toys. However, a new study from the Univer ...
MAR 24, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAR 24, 2020
This Beetle Climbs Tall Trees to Toss Others Over the Edge
Different animals exhibit all kinds of different behaviors when searching for mates in the wilderness, but perhaps one o ...
APR 08, 2020
Earth & The Environment
APR 08, 2020
The Great Barrier Reef is Bleaching Again
Australia's Great Barrier Reef is going through another bleaching event; it's third in five years. The ARC Centr ...
APR 28, 2020
Earth & The Environment
APR 28, 2020
Don't wake the Andes' supervolcano
A study published in the journal Scientific Reports showcases new insight regarding the supervolcano laying under the An ...
MAY 12, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 12, 2020
It's Not a Choice - Cats Need Meat
While you or I might have the freedom of deciding between a carnivorous diet or going all out vegetarian, not all a ...
MAY 17, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 17, 2020
Male Garter Snakes Trick Others to Improve Own Mating Success
After spending several months in hibernation during the winter, male garter snakes emerge from the underground where the ...
Loading Comments...