Posted on July 9th, 2019

Our Changing Landscape – Urban and Suburban Growth in Washington D.C.

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium resolution RapidEye satellite imagery. The RapidEye archive dates back to late 2008 and already contains more than 14 billion square kilometers of data. Last month we checked out the largest fire in California’s history, and for this patriotic edition of Our Changing Landscape we check out urban and suburban growth in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.

Click on the image above to see an animation of 5-meter natural color RapidEye imagery collected over the southern suburbs of Washington, D.C. on October 2, 2010, July 25, 2014, June 10, 2017 and May 15, 2019. If you follow the animation closely, what you will see is a slow march from a more rural near-suburb of Washington with multiple farms dotting the landscape, to a more traditional American suburb with rows of evenly-spaced homes replacing the pastoral life style. We think it is easiest to see this transition from rural to suburban by focusing on the 2019 to 2010 slide transition as the animation restarts. (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2019)

The RapidEye Constellation

RapidEye is a constellation of five 5-meter (m) 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 and Suburban Growth in Washington D.C.

Our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., is a relatively small area of land, about 68 square miles (177 square kilometers), that is surrounded to the east and north by the state of Maryland and to the south and west by Virginia. In all, the region is home to 6.2 million residents, with a 1.1% growth rate in 2017 it was the fifth fastest growing major metropolitan and the sixth largest in the nation. Washington D.C. itself topped 700,000 in population for the first time in 2018 since 1975. In fact, the population of D.C. grew by more than 100,000 residents since 2010. When considering more regional growth patterns, this Esri webmap shows that the regions south and west of the city are growing the fastest, and more specifically, it is much of Alexandria, Virginia and surrounding towns that is fueling this rapid growth. In fact, in the first half of the current decade, about 1 in 4 people who moved into the region settled in downtown D.C., Arlington County and Alexandria. With this sort of rapid population growth in the early part of this decade, the 5-meter RapidEye archive is the ideal solution to track these changes over time!

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 sales@apollomapping.com or (303) 993-3863.

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