Massive urbanization, accompanied by the rapid expansion of cities and metropolitan regions and the sprawling growth of megacities the world over, is one of the most important transformations of our planet. Much of this explosive growth has been unplanned. Cities in developing countries have been unprepared for absorbing the many millions of the rural poor that are still crowding into informal settlements. These cities are now scheduled to double their urban population in the next thirty years, and possibly triple the land area. And while in industrialized countries the great transformation into an urban society is largely completed, there are growing concerns about continuing low-density sprawl and its deleterious environmental consequences - the effects on carbon emissions, energy use, and the loss of prime agricultural lands. Urban expansion, in short, is now a global concern.
The Atlas of Urban Expansion provides the geographic and quantitative dimensions of urban expansion and its key attributes in cities the world over. The data and images are available for free downloading, for scholars, public officials, planners, those engaged in international development, and concerned citizens. The global empirical evidence presented here is critical for an intelligent discussion of plans and policies to manage urban expansion everywhere.
The Atlas of Urban Expansion accompanies the Policy Focus Report Making Room for a Planet of Cities, a comprehensive and original analysis of the quantitative dimensions of past, present, and future global urban land cover, culminating in a proposed new paradigm for preparing for explosive growth in cities the world over. Further detail of that analysis is available in three working papers available for downloading: The Persistent Decline in Urban Densities, The Fragmentation of Urban Footprints, and A Planet of Cities: Country Estimates and Projections of Urban Land Cover, 2000-2050. A forthcoming book, titled The Expansion of Cities, bringing together the analysis of the maps in the Atlas of Urban Expansion within a broader discussion of urban expansion in a global and historical perspective, will be published by the Lincoln Institute in 2012.
The Atlas of Urban Expansion and Making Room for a Planet of Cities provide both the conceptual framework and, for the first time, the basic empirical data and quantitative dimensions of past, present, and future urban expansion in cities around the world that are necessary for making minimal preparations for the massive urban growth expected in the coming decades.
The Atlas of Urban Expansion is also available as a printed book.
Use of data should include the following citation: Angel, S., J. Parent, D. L. Civco and A. M. Blei, 2010. Atlas of Urban Expansion, Cambridge MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, online at http://www.lincolninst.edu/subcenters/atlas-urban-expansion/.