FORECASTING URBAN EXPANSION BASED ON NIGHT LIGHTS
Keywords: Urban expansion, forecasting, DMSP/OLS, night lights, stable lights, urban sprawl, planning
Abstract. Forecasting urban expansion models are a very powerful tool in the hands of urban planners in order to anticipate and mitigate future urbanization pressures. In this paper, a linear regression forecasting urban expansion model is implemented based on the annual composite night lights time series available from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The product known as 'stable lights' is used in particular, after it has been corrected with a standard intercalibration process to reduce artificial year-to-year fluctuations as much as possible. Forecasting is done for ten years after the end of the time series. Because the method is spatially explicit the predicted expansion trends are relatively accurately mapped. Two metrics are used to validate the process. The first one is the year-to-year Sum of Lights (SoL) variation. The second is the year-to-year image correlation coefficient. Overall it is evident that the method is able to provide an insight on future urbanization pressures in order to be taken into account in planning. The trends are quantified in a clear spatial manner.