On the heterogeneity of urban expansion profiles in Europe

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The difference of a city's artificial land use (ALU) radial profile to the average ALU profile is examined for 585 European cities. Using Urban Atlas 2012 data, a radial (or monocentric) approach is used to calculate a city's land use profile in relation to distance to the city centre. A scaling law is used which controls for city size and population. As a consequence, cities of varying degrees of size can be contrasted in a comparable way. Utilising the mean ALU profile for the entire sample of 585 cities, the difference to the mean profile is calculated for each city. Using these differences allows us to examine heterogeneity of the ALU across European cities but also examine these differences within cities. We utilise city groupings by city size and country to attempt to understand these differences. Combining Urban Atlas and Corine Land Cover data, the impact of water on the ALU profiles is examined. A city classification is also introduced which considers the difference to the average curve. Ordering methods are used to visualise cities within these classifications. Results highlight the level of heterogeneity between cities. Removing water, we can see that the cities with the highest levels of water have a higher level of ALU on average. Spain and France are found to have contrasting levels of ALU, Spanish cities having below average ALU and France above average. Using seriation techniques enables us to group and order cities into a typology which can be used to benchmark cities.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherarXiv.org (Cornell University)
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

33 pages, 11 figures
This article was submitted and deposit in arXiv : a free distribution service and an open-access archive.


  • physics.soc-ph

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