GRUMP mapping project finds urban areas increasing in surprising ways
The majority of the world’s population will soon live in urban rather than rural areas. Adding a spatial dimension to population estimates, a new study finds that as much as three percent of the Earth’s land area has already been urbanized, which is double previous estimates.
This new data collection, known as the Global Rural Urban Mapping Project, or GRUMP, has provided the basis for a number of important insights not previously known. This project is led by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), part of the Earth Institute.
“The GRUMP datasets will allow us to rethink trends in urbanization and the relationship between population, ecosystems and land use,” explained Dr. Deborah Balk, a demographer at CIESIN and the principal investigator of GRUMP. “GRUMP shows us that the urban experience is not uniform, that city-size matters, and city distribution matters. Coastal areas are more urban than other ecosystems, for example, and even rural populations in coastal ecosystems are much denser than in other rural areas.”
This study has resulted in the construction of a suite of products constituting the first detailed and systematic data sets on urban population distribution and the extents of human settlements across the globe.
Although population census and satellite data have been available for some time, until now minimal effort had been made to combine these two kinds of information to capture the geographic boundaries of human settlements.
The GRUMP data collection consists of three individual databases that build upon population datasets mostly from national statistical offices, satellite data and other representations of settlements. GRUMP Human Settlements is a global database of cities and towns of 1,000 persons or more, each represented as a point, and includes information on population sizes, longitude and latitude coordinates, and data sources. Populations were estimated for 1990, 1995 and 2000. The GRUMP Urban ExtentMask is the first systematic global-scale attempt to portray the boundaries of urban areas with defined populations of 5,000 and larger. The GRUMP Population Grid represents the distribution of human population across the globe, accounting for urban population concentration more precisely than previous efforts. It allows for inferences about urban versus rural populations, and cities of different sizes, when used in combination with the Urban Extent Mask.
In contrast, prior data sets such as those from the United Nations or the Digital Chart of the World indicated either the population size or extent of urban areas, but not both.
“For us, knowing more about the number and distribution of rural populations is critical,” said Stanley Wood, head of the Spatial Analysis Research Group at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) that supported and collaborated on GRUMP. “Past spatial population datasets have confounded urban and rural populations, but the better we can distinguish patterns of rural population, farming and use of natural resources, the better placed we are to address the major challenges of rural development and poverty alleviation. GRUMP is an important step in the right direction.”
GRUMP delineates urban boundaries across the planet ranging in size from 1 km2 to the largest of urban extents, Tokyo, which includes more than 500 connected settlements and is the largest urbanized area in the world at 30,000 km2. “The night-time lights satellite, the [primary technology used to detect] urban extents, tends to overestimate the geographic size of highly-electrified cities, but for those cities, we have much more detailed sub-city population data to supplement the extent information,” said Balk. GRUMP has shown that in the year 2000, there were 24,000 urban areas across the globe with 5,000 residents or more. “We know that this is an undercount, because the poorest countries have urban areas that were either hard to detect with the satellite or have weak census-taking. This method is novel and a huge improvement over previous databases. It’s not perfect, but it’s an important achievement,” Balk said.
“Eventually, GRUMP data should revolutionize the way population figures are debated and discussed,” said Dr. Gordon McGranahan, Director of the Human Settlements Programme at the International Institute for Environment and Development. “The GRUMP presentation of data, particularly if combined with population estimates by location, is so much more amenable to up- and down-scaling and local verification than conventional tables.”
GRUMP data took four years to compile. It drew on years of investment from the Gridded Population of the World (GPW) project in which population counts are converted from irregularly and administratively defined census units to a uniform latitude-longitude grid.
The GRUMP datasets, as well as the newest release (version 3) of GPW, may be accessed through the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), operated by CIESIN, at http://beta.sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/gpw/
GRUMP and GPW datasets and map collections are distributed free of charge.
GRUMP is a collaborative project with partners from IFPRI, the World Bank and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture. Primary financial support was provided by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, IFPRI, and the World Conservation Monitoring Center for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (www.maweb.org).
The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), a member of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, works at the intersection of the social, natural, and information sciences. Scientists at CIESIN specialize in online data and information management, spatial data integration and training, and interdisciplinary research related to human interactions in the environment. CIESIN researchers seek to provide data that informs scientific, public and private decision-makers worldwide. For more information, visit www.earth.columbia.edu
The Earth Institute at Columbia University is the worlds leading academic center for the integrated study of Earth, its environment and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines — earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences — and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through research, training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the worlds poor. For more information, visit www.earth.columbia.edu.
Clare Oh | EurekAlert!
Colorado River's connection with the ocean was a punctuated affair
16.11.2017 | University of Oregon
Researchers create largest, longest multiphysics earthquake simulation to date
14.11.2017 | Gauss Centre for Supercomputing
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses