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Determining the Weight of Cities Using Night-time Light Imagery

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Catherine Hill

Master’s Thesis – Environmental Engineering - 2017

Cities are concentrated centres of people, economy and consumption thus they present both the problems and solutions to sustainability challenges. This thesis quantified the urban built environment stock of global cities and determined the main drivers of the accumulation of this stock. A regression model between night-time lights and in-use stocks of steel, cement and aluminium was used to provide 1 km x 1km stock data which was clipped to city boundaries to give an initial estimate of the weight of global cities. The influence of socio-economic parameters on stock accumulation was investigated and built-up area and population density indicated that compactness of cities could affect the overall mass of material stocks. A City Mass Index was derived as an indication to unsustainable or obecities using total stock and built-up area as the basis for the metric. The growing built environment stocks in cities has significant implications for resource management and future material flows therefore the quantification of stocks and knowledge of the drivers of stock accumulation is critical for the sustainable growth of cities.

Collaboration Partners:
School of Geographical Sciences - East China Normal University, Shanghai - http://www.geo.ecnu.edu.cn