In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with time series of medium resolution RapidEye satellite imagery. The RapidEye archive dates back to late 2008 and already contains more than 3 billion square kilometers of data. This month, we travel to the Far East and look at urban development in Beihai, China.
The RapidEye Constellation
RapidEye is a constellation of five 5-meter medium resolution satellites each offering five spectral bands of information. The RapidEye constellation offers a daily revisit time to every location on the planet with a huge footprint that is 77-km wide. The data is priced competitively with a base price of $1.28 per square kilometer for all five spectral bands – academics receive a discount on this price. RapidEye adds a fifth band, the red edge, to the ‘traditional’ multispectral set of blue, green, red and near-infrared (NIR). The additional spectral data available in the red edge band allows users to extract more useful land ‘information’ than can be from traditional 4-band imagery sources. When RapidEye imagery is ordered as a Level 3A Orthorectified product, images from multiple dates are extremely well registered, making it the ideal data source for Our Changing Landscape.
Urban Development in Beihai, China
Beihai is a prefecture-level city which is equivalent to creating a government administrative unit around New York City which would include the 5 boroughs plus the surrounding suburbs and rural areas. Beihai covers 3,337 square kilometers of coastal and interior lands along the Gulf of Tonkin in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi. In 2010, the population of the region stood at 1,539,300 and is expected to grow by approximately 10.5% over the next eight years; making Beihai the fastest growing city-region in the world according to some estimates.
Even if the region is not the fastest growing in the world over the coming decade, it will certainly see stunning growth fueled by massive government investments. Located along the Silk Route and home to a major shipping port in Binzhou, Beihai is situated close to Vietnam, Hong Kong and Macao which are key trade and tourism generators. The region also has abundant natural resources, for instance the Shengli Oil Field which is the second largest in China, major salt mines and vast (but not yet tapped) wind power. There is also abundant open land around Beihai which is a true commodity in a nation of 1.3 billion plus. In an area referred to as the Beihai Newly Developed Area, there are a plethora of major infrastructure projects that planned and/or underway – including highways, railways, shipping yards and power plants – that will foster significant development of the region’s manufacturing hubs.
China has shown significant commitment to growing its energy and transportation infrastructure even during the Great Recession that stymied economies across much of the planet. In 2008 alone, the Western Development Bureau of China, which helps to oversee and accelerate urban growth in Beihai, launched 10 major transportation projects totaling more than $64 billion while our US economy was in the midst of serious job losses. And the significant urban growth in Beihai is very apparent in the RapidEye imagery stack that follows.
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