Paul C. Sutton and Andrew R. Goetz - University of Denver
Stephen Fildes and Clive Forste - Flinders University, Australia
Tilottama Ghosh - University of Denver
This article explores the use of nighttime satellite imagery for mapping urban and peri-urban areas of Australia. A population-weighted measure of urban sprawl is used to characterize relative levels of sprawl for Australia’s urban areas. In addition, the expansive areas of low light surrounding most major metropolitan areas are used to map the urban–bush interface of exurban land use. Our findings suggest that 82 percent of the Australian population lives in urban areas, 15 percent live in peri-urban or exurban areas, and 3 percent live in rural areas. This represents a significantly more concentrated human settlement pattern than presently exists in the United States.
Urban Decentralization Processes
Results and Discussion
Nighttime satellite imagery has been used to map urban and an exurban population in the United States and this article demonstrates that the same methods are reasonable for mapping similar urban and exurban environments in Australia. Comparing these results with prior studies of U.S. cities shows that Australia is significantly more urban than the United States and Australia’s urban areas do not sprawl in either an urban or peri-urban way relative to those in the United States. Within Australia, Sydney sprawls the least and Brisbane sprawls the most. Perth sprawls a bit, but Melbourne and Adelaide do not. Comparing the peri-urban populations and areal extent of these five big cities is problematic due to the differing degree of conurbation they have with nearby large cities (e.g., Sydney with Newcastle and Woo- longong; Brisbane with the Gold Coast; Perth with Freemantle and Mandurah; Melbourne with Geelong; and Adelaide with Mt. Barker). Future demographic, economic, social, political, and ethical decisions and nondecisions will determine whether Australia will move toward or away from the urban and exurban sprawl that presently exists in the United States.
Sutton, Paul C., Goetz, Andrew R., Fildes, Stephen, Forster, Clive and Ghosh, Tilottama(2010) 'Darkness on the Edge of Town: Mapping Urban and Peri-Urban Australia Using Nighttime Satellite Imagery', The Professional Geographer, 62: 1, 119 — 133, First published on: 11 December 2009 (iFirst)
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