UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Over the hills and further away from coast: global geospatial patterns of human and environment over the 20th–21st centuries


Kummu, Matti; de Moel, Hans; Salvucci, Gianluigi; Viviroli, Daniel; Ward, Philip J; Varis, Olli (2016). Over the hills and further away from coast: global geospatial patterns of human and environment over the 20th–21st centuries. Environmental Research Letters, 11(3):online.

Abstract

Proximity to the coast and elevation are important geographical considerations for human settlement. Little is known, however, about how spatial variation in these factors exactly relates to human settlements and activities, and how this has developed over time. Such knowledge is important for identifying vulnerable regions that are at risk from phenomena such as food shortages and water stress. Human activities are a key driving force in global change, and thus detailed information on population distribution is an important input to any research framework on global change. In this paper we assess the global geospatial patterns of the distribution of human population and related factors, with regard to the altitude above sea level and proximity to the coast. The investigated factors are physical conditions, urbanisation, agricultural practices, economy, and environmental stress. An important novel element in this study, is that we included the temporal evolution in various factors related to human settlements and agricultural practices over the 20th century, and used projections for some of these factors up to the year 2050. We found population pressure in the proximity of the coast to be somewhat greater than was found in other studies. Yet, the distribution of population, urbanisation and wealth are evolving to become more evenly spread across the globe than they were in the past. Therefore, the commonly believed tendency of accumulation of people and wealth along coasts is not supported by our results. At the same time, food production is becoming increasingly decoupled from the trends in population density. Croplands are spreading from highly populated coastal zones towards inland zones. Our results thus indicate that even though people and wealth continue to accumulate in proximity to the coast, population densities and economic productivity are becoming less diverse in relation to elevation and distance from the coast.

Abstract

Proximity to the coast and elevation are important geographical considerations for human settlement. Little is known, however, about how spatial variation in these factors exactly relates to human settlements and activities, and how this has developed over time. Such knowledge is important for identifying vulnerable regions that are at risk from phenomena such as food shortages and water stress. Human activities are a key driving force in global change, and thus detailed information on population distribution is an important input to any research framework on global change. In this paper we assess the global geospatial patterns of the distribution of human population and related factors, with regard to the altitude above sea level and proximity to the coast. The investigated factors are physical conditions, urbanisation, agricultural practices, economy, and environmental stress. An important novel element in this study, is that we included the temporal evolution in various factors related to human settlements and agricultural practices over the 20th century, and used projections for some of these factors up to the year 2050. We found population pressure in the proximity of the coast to be somewhat greater than was found in other studies. Yet, the distribution of population, urbanisation and wealth are evolving to become more evenly spread across the globe than they were in the past. Therefore, the commonly believed tendency of accumulation of people and wealth along coasts is not supported by our results. At the same time, food production is becoming increasingly decoupled from the trends in population density. Croplands are spreading from highly populated coastal zones towards inland zones. Our results thus indicate that even though people and wealth continue to accumulate in proximity to the coast, population densities and economic productivity are becoming less diverse in relation to elevation and distance from the coast.

Altmetrics

Downloads

6 downloads since deposited on 15 Mar 2016
6 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:15 Mar 2016 13:13
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 20:11
Publisher:IOP Publishing
ISSN:1748-9326
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/11/3/034010

Download

[img]
Content: Published Version
Language: English
Filetype: PDF
Size: 2MB
View at publisher

TrendTerms

TrendTerms displays relevant terms of the abstract of this publication and related documents on a map. The terms and their relations were extracted from ZORA using word statistics. Their timelines are taken from ZORA as well. The bubble size of a term is proportional to the number of documents where the term occurs. Red, orange, yellow and green colors are used for terms that occur in the current document; red indicates high interlinkedness of a term with other terms, orange, yellow and green decreasing interlinkedness. Blue is used for terms that have a relation with the terms in this document, but occur in other documents.
You can navigate and zoom the map. Mouse-hovering a term displays its timeline, clicking it yields the associated documents.

Author Collaborations