Our present century is one of unparalleled urbanization and environmental change. The 2.5 billion people expected to move to urban areas by 2050 will result in unprecedented expansion of urban land, with significant effects on regional land use and ecosystems. Fueled by economic growth, many fast-growing cities are adopting Western-style ways of living and exhibiting urban growth patterns measurably similar to the U.S., although radically different national political and economic frameworks underpin these changes. The land- and resource-intensive nature of this urban development typology, coupled with the rapidity of global urban change, is causing widespread environmental and social impacts.
Since the 1970s, global satellite imagery has created a data set permitting unprecedented insight into urban land-use change and its economic and environmental effects at a global scale. In addition to the remotely sensed satellite data at the core of our research, our studies employ geographic information science, statistics, systems modeling, stakeholder interviews, fieldwork, and historical assessments. Our projects include: