A highly detailed paper entitled 'A new urban landscape in East-Southeast Asia, 2000-2010' recently published in Environmental Research Letters gives a striking perspective on the process of urbanisation in the Asia-Pacific region.
The overhead maps show the geographical outlines and new urban development of key Asian cities, with urban land classified in 2000 in grey, and urban land classified in 2010 in red.
Snapshots of Urban Land Growth in Six Asian Cities, 2000-2010
Source: Environmental Letters, Vol. 10, (2015) 034002, 'A New Urban Landscape in East-South East Asia, 2000-2010.'
Note: Red colour indicates urban land that had been newly classified in 2010. Grey colour indicates urban land classified in 2000.
Most notably, the paper highlights the stunning outward growth of key regional hubs, with the Yangtse and Pearl River Deltas standing out most prominently.
Yangtse River Delta, New Urban Land (Red) Added Since 2000
In Shanghai alone, the core of the Yangtse River Delta region, explosive growth in urban populations from 16 million in 2000 to 27 million in 2010 caused total urban land to increase from approximately 1,900 sq. km in to 3,900 sq. km.
As such, towns on the western periphery, such as Jiading, Kunshan and Songjiang have emerged as satellite cities and absorbed Shanghai's outward growth. Pudong New District to the east, which features the new Shanghai Free Trade Zone, has also emerged as a new, growing urban zone.
Pearl River Delta, New Urban Land (Red) Added Since 2000
The depiction of urban change in the Pearl River Delta also shows a widespread distribution of urban development.
Between 2000 and 2010, the total amount of urban land was estimated to have grown from 4,600 sq.km to 7,100 sq.km, an increase of approximately 55%.
To put the increase in the Pearl River Delta region in perspective, the increase in urban land of approximately 2,500 sq,km is the equivalent of adding city space of the same total urban size of Seattle in a ten year period.
Taken together, the approximate net increase of urban land in the two regions between 2000 and 2010 - 4,400 sq.km - amounts to four times the current size of Rome, according to research by Demographia.