Comparison of spatial patterns of urban sprawl across Mexican and U.S cities using spatial metrics

Authors: Gustavo Ovando-Montejo*, Oklahoma State University, Amy Frazier, Oklahoma State University , Peter Kedron, Oklahoma State University
Topics: Land Use, Physical Geography
Keywords: Sprawl, landscape metrics, scale, impervious surfaces, Mexico, U.S.
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Urban sprawl has been described as the most nefarious type of urban growth, since it increases car dependency and commuting distances and consumes large swaths of naturally vegetated land cover. Hence, timely and accurate measures of urban sprawl are imperative for adequate urban planning, and urban environmental assessments. However, most studies focus on developed countries, and very few studies have examined urban sprawl in underdeveloped countries. Similarly, studies rarely systemically compare multiple cities in a single country or explore urban sprawl between countries. The main goal of this research is to examine the spatial patterns of sprawl between 4000 Mexican and U.S cities using spatial metrics to compare if differences exist between cities of comparable population size. Furthermore, we test whether changing the grain size and urban boundary extent results in notable differences. Preliminary results suggest that cities in both countries show several common sprawl characteristics, especially in larger metropolitan areas, which exhibit high geometric complexity as well as high structural fragmentation. One important difference was that while smaller cities in the U.S show equally complex and fragmented urban structures, comparable Mexican cities are more compact and less fragmented. We also found that changing the grain size does not drastically alter the overall sprawl patterns. However, changing the spatial boundary that delineates city extent does result in considerably different metric values. Overall, the findings help uncover patterns of urbanization across different managing systems, as well as their implications for future studies in urban ecology, urban sustainability, and planning.

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