Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2014, Vol. 69 ›› Issue (6): 759-770.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201406004

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Hierarchical structure and spatial pattern of China’s urban system:Evidence from DMSP/OLS nightlight data

WU Jiansheng1, LIU Hao1, PENG Jian2, MA Lin1,2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Human Environmental Science and Technology, Peking University, Shenzhen 518055, Guangdong, China;
    2. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2013-08-15 Revised:2014-04-12 Online:2014-06-20 Published:2014-07-30
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41330747

Abstract: A perfect urban system can promote the urban agglomeration effect, and the prerequisite for urban system is that regional socio-economic development should actually reach a certain stage. Thanks to the strong correlation between the urban element flow and the mass of spatial units, the node system study in general should scientifically measure the interaction intensity among spatial units, and also avoid the difficulty that the vector data of the function system study is still hard to obtain and measure. As a special node system study data, DMSP/OLS nighttime light data can be used to measure urban human's activity intensity and activity breadth comprehensively, having a strong positive correlation with local GDP, population size, urbanization level and so on. So the urban nighttime light index can make a perfect combination between a single statistical index and a comprehensive index system. The gravity model based on DMSP/OLS nighttime light data is used to measure the interaction intensity among 341 cities in mainland China, and then the two step cluster analysis is made to analyze hierarchical structure and spatial pattern of mainland China urban system comprehensively. There are 7 national node cities (including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Harbin and Shenyang), 26 regional node cities and 107 provincial node cities in mainland China. Mainland China urban system are divided into 2 national urban systems (the northern national urban system and the southern national urban system) and 8 regional urban systems (North China urban system, Northeast China urban system, Northwest China urban system, Middle Yellow River urban system, and East China urban system, South China urban system, Southwest China urban system, Middle Yangtze River urban system), as well 31 provincial urban systems. Every urban system is closely linked, interdependently and interactionally, whose slope is relative and local area, and then some urban systems and many cities may be define accurately again, but the empirical study of hierarchical structure and spatial pattern of mainland China urban system evidenced from DMSP/OLS nightlight data is rather objective and compellent. All in all, to analyze hierarchical structure and spatial pattern of urban system based on DMSP/OLS nightlight data is obviously feasible and scientific.

Key words: hierarchical structure, spatial pattern, DMSP/OLS, China, urban system, gravity model