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Posted on June 2nd, 2015

Our Changing Landscape – Beihai, China, Part II

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 5 billion square kilometers of data. This month, we take a look back in on Beihai, China to see how urban development has progressed since our first piece on the prefecture-level city in 2012.

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 daily revisits to every location on the planet with a huge footprint that is 77-km wide. The data is priced competitively with a starting cost of $1.28 per square kilometer for all five spectral bands – academics do receive discounts. 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 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 – Part II

Click on the image above to see an animation of 5-meter natural color RapidEye imagery collected over Beihai, China on July 3, 2012 (the last image from our October 2012 article), October 2, 2013 and May 13, 2014. You can see significant changes in the urban area in the northwest of these images from 2012 to 2014, especially along the stretch of new highway at their centers. In the July 3, 2012 image, there was approximately 3,408 meters of highway under construction. By May 13, 2014, there was some 7,643 meters of highway under construction, with much of it appearing to be close to completion. It appears that while the overall Chinese economy has slowed, urban growth in Beihai has not! (Images Courtesy: RapidEye)

In our first piece on Beihai, China in the October 2012 edition of Our Changing Landscape, we introduced the region as the fastest growing in the world with some explanation as to why this might be. And for the 5-meter imagery animation, our focus was the construction of a new highway in the prefecture-city. So this month, some 3 years later, we check out Beihai again with a brief explanation of how it has fared since our last visit as well as check out progress on the highway construction project.

Admittedly, finding news stories on specific areas in China is less than easy. It does appear that the overall economic slowdown in China has had impacts on real estate prices as can be seen by this relaxation of Nanning residency policies aimed at Beihai. There is also the mention of a suburban ghost town of some 100 homes in the region. That being said, official government websites still tout Beihai as one of the country’s rising stars with its central location and mild climate, but this is not a surprising move for a Communist government. Further, the prefecture-city is part of China’s long-term economic development region for Asia, Africa and Europe as a whole referred to as the ‘New Silk Road.’ As the available news on Beihai is scant, the updated 5-meter RapidEye images from 2013 and 2014 could offer intriguing insight on urban growth in this western Chinese region.

If you would like to find out more about using RapidEye for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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