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Spatio-temporal dynamics in California's Central Valley: Empirical links to urban theory

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This paper explores an addition to theory in urban geography pertaining to spatio-temporal dynamics. Remotely sensed data on the historical extent of urban areas were used in a spatial metrics analysis of geographical form of towns and cities in the Central Valley of California (USA). Regularities in the spatio-temporal pattern of urban growth were detected and characterized over a hundred year period. To test hypotheses about variation over geographical scale, multiple spatial extents were used in examining a set of spatial metric values including an index of contagion, the mean nearest neighbor distance, urban patch density and edge density. Through changes in these values a general temporal oscillation between phases of diffusion and coalescence in urban growth was revealed. Analysis of historical datasets revealed preliminary evidence supporting an addition to the theory of urban growth dynamics, one alluded to in some previous research, but not well developed. The empirical results and findings provide a lead for future research into the dynamics of urban growth and further development of existing urban theory.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 3611 Ellison Hall University of California Santa Barbara, Department of Geography Santa Barbara CA 93106 USA

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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