Urbanization: Change in Land Cover

Composite satellite image from LANDSAT MSS data of 1979 and 1989.

The satellite image was received and processed by NASDA Japan, and distributed by RESTEC Japan.
Blue and Orange lines denote major railway lines.

Because its location is easily accessible to large cities such as Osaka and Kyoto, the Nara region has been strongly affected by urbanization in recent decades. This satellite image was configured to highlight the change in land cover of the area around Nara between 1979 and 1989. It is made from LANDSAT MSS images acquired on October 15, 1979 and on April 4, 1989.

The image is composed of a band 5 (visible light) image of 1979 as the blue plane, a band 7 (infrared) image of 1979 as the green plane, and a band 5 image of 1989 as the red plane. As urban development proceeds, brightness on grayscale images using visible light changes from dark (before development, covered by wood) to bright (under construction, bare land) to gray (after development, covered by buildings). As a result, newly urbanized areas are highlighted as orange. Colors in the image indicate the types of land cover and changes in land cover as shown in the following table.

Change in Land Cover in the Northern Part of Nara Basin
Color Land Cover in 1979 Land Cover in 1989
light blue under construction built up area
orange wood under construction
dark green wood wood
light green rice field rice field
magenta densely built up area densely built up area

The image shows that large-scale development has taken place in hilly areas around the Nara Basin.

By Noboru Ogata, Kyoto University

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