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Environ Sci Technol. 2018 Oct 16;52(20):11520-11527. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.8b02838. Epub 2018 Sep 25.

Nighttime Light Images Reveal Spatial-Temporal Dynamics of Global Anthropogenic Resources Accumulation above Ground.

Yu B1,2, Deng S1,2, Liu G3, Yang C1,2, Chen Z1,2, Hill CJ3, Wu J1,2.

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Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science, Ministry of Education , East China Normal University , Shanghai 200241 , China.
School of Geographic Sciences , East China Normal University , Shanghai 200241 , China.
SDU Life Cycle Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology, and Environmental Technology , University of Southern Denmark , 5230 Odense , Denmark.


Urbanization and industrialization represent largely a process of transforming materials from biosphere and lithosphere to anthroposphere. Understanding the patterns of such anthropogenic material stock accumulation is thus a fundamental prerequisite to assess and sustain how humans alter the biophysical movements of resources around Earth. Previous studies on these anthropogenic stocks, however, are often limited to the global and national scales, due to data gaps at higher spatial resolutions. Here, based on a new set of national materials stock data and nighttime light images, we developed a regression model to map the global anthropogenic stocks of three fundamental construction materials (steel, concrete, and aluminum) at a 1 × 1 km level from 1992 to 2008. We revealed an unevenly distributed pattern, with over 40% found in three belts: from England across the Channel to Western Europe; from eastern coast China to South Korea and Japan; and from Great Lakes along eastern coast of United States to Florida. The spatial-temporal dynamics of global anthropogenic stocks at smaller spatial scales reflect a combined effect of physical geography, architectural and construction specifications, and socioeconomic development. Our results provide useful data that can potentially support policy-makers and industry on resource efficiency, waste management, urban mining, spatial planning, and environmental sustainability at regional and urban scales.


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