GLOBAL BARE GROUND GAIN BETWEEN 2000 AND 2012 AND THE RELATIONSHIP WITH SOCIOECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Hansen, Matthew C
MetadataShow full item record
Bare ground gain -- the complete removal of vegetation due to land use changes, represents an extreme land cover transition that completely alters the structure and functioning of ecosystems. The fast expansion of bare ground cover is directly associated with increasing population and urbanization, resulting in accelerated greenhouse gas emissions, intensified urban heat island phenomenon, and extensive habitat fragments and loss. While the economic return of settlement and infrastructure construction has improved human livelihoods, the negative impacts on the environment have disproportionally affected vulnerable population, creating inequality and tension in society. The area, distribution, drivers, and change rates of global bare ground gain were not systematically quantified; neither was the relationship between such dynamics and socioeconomic development. This dissertation seeks methods for operational characterization of bare ground expansion, advances our understanding of the magnitudes, dynamics, and drivers of global bare ground gain between 2000 and 2012, and uncovers the implications of such change for macro-economic development monitoring, all through Landsat satellite observations. The approach that employs wall-to-wall maps of bare ground gain classified from Landsat imagery for probability sample selection is proved particularly effective for unbiased area estimation of global, continental, and national bare ground gain, as a small land cover and land use change theme. Anthropogenic land uses accounted for 95% of the global bare ground gain, largely consisting of commercial/residential built-up, infrastructure development, and resource extraction. China and the United States topped the total area increase in bare ground. Annual change rates of anthropogenic bare ground gain are found as a leading indicator of macro-economic change in the study period dominated by the 2007-2008 global financial crisis, through econometric analysis between annual gains in the bare ground of different land use outcomes and economic fluctuations in business cycles measured by detrended economic variables. Instead of intensive manual interpretation of land-use attributes of probability sample, an approach of integrating a pixel- and an object- based deep learning algorithms is proposed and tested feasible for automatic attribution of airports, a transportation land use with economic importance.