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Land changes are complex and dynamic processes that involve the human and natural systems interacting over space and time to reshape the earth's surface. As a fundamental form of global environmental changes, land changes also hold wide-ranging significance for the functioning of the earth's ecosystem and the human society. However, understanding land change dynamics remains a major challenge for global environmental change and sustainability research. The primary objective of this dissertation research is to investigate the feasibility and applicability of integrating various geographic information technologies to improve the understanding of land change dynamics in a complex urban environment. Specifically, the following dimensions of land change science are examined: land change observation and monitoring, driving force analysis, and spatially-explicit modeling. Firstly, a stratified classification approach combined with sub-pixel analysis is developed to map various land use and land cover types in the heterogeneous urban area from medium-resolution satellite imagery. Secondly, remote sensing, GIS and landscape metrics are used in combination to characterize both the spatial characteristics and the nature of urban land changes. Thirdly, a multi-scale analysis is performed to explore the biophysical and socioeconomic driving factors of urban land use change at different spatial aggregation levels and across different spatial extents. Fourthly, given a wide array of existing land change modeling approaches, the theoretical and methodological foundation of these modeling techniques are reviewed and the outstanding issues are discussed in the context of global environmental change research. Lastly, an agent-based model is developed that is coupled with GIS-based spatial data analysis to simulate the residential development decision-making processes and the emergent land use patterns. Overall, this dissertation research has demonstrated the usefulness of integrating various geographic information technologies, such as remote sensing, GIS, and spatial modeling, in land change research. The technological integration also provides the foundation for the coupling of human and environment sciences in understanding land change as a coupled system. An interdisciplinary effort is needed towards more comprehensive research in land change that integrates theories, methods, and techniques in human, environmental, and geographic information sciences.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Geography in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Xiaojun Yang, Professor Directing Dissertation; Timothy S. Chapin, University Representative; Joseph Pierce, Committee Member; J. Anthony Stallins, Committee Member; Tingting Zhao, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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