Europe’s Urban Footprint Revealed by the Space Agency


Europe’s Urban Footprint Revealed by the Space Agency


The European Space Agency recently revealed an enthralling map which shows the continent’s urban footprint and agglomerations. The reasons for this map are quite exact, but the agency had this to say about it:

“The urban footprint extracted from the Global Urban Footprint Europe. GUF-2012 is derived from (commercial) 3 m-resolution TerraSAR-X/TanDEM-X SAR data and is available in 12 m resolution for any scientific use and in 84 m for any non-profit use. Commercial applications have to check with Airbus for the licensing.”

Currently, over 50% of the word’s population lives in urban areas. And this number is growing at an ever increasing rate. Surprisingly, or not, this is a good thing for the environment, since a larger concentration of people in one place means less wasted energy and a larger efficiency of all kinds. The Global Urban Footprint here aims to deliver a worldwide mapping of settlements at an unprecedented spatial resolution of approximately 12 meters.

“The resulting map shows the Earth in three colors only: black for “urban areas”, white for “land surface” and grey for “water”. This reduction emphasizes the settlement patterns and allows for the analysis of urban structures, and hence the proportion of settled areas, the regional population distribution and the arrangement of rural and urban areas,” the project’s website reads.

Mapping can have tremendous benefits for future development. This map, for instance, can help us show our impact on the surrounding environment. Moreover, it helps us deal with that problem, as well with analysing the potential risks of all sorts of calamities such as earthquakes, tsunamis, rising sea levels and so forth. By comparing current maps with future ones, we can also study urban growth and other future developments.

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