London UK
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London, UK

January 18, 2006
These two LANDSAT images allow estimate the real growth of London and its metropolitan area in 19 years.

A comparison between the two images shows that London did not grow considerably from 1985 to 2004. As a matter of fact, the boundaries of Greater London remained substantially unchanged, whereas an increase of the urban areas can be envisaged only in the northwestern sectors (white patches in the upper left-hand corner of the images).

The small growth of London is primarily the result of political decisions. In fact, outward growth has been physically interrupted (though by no means halted) by the creation of a Green Belt. The Green Belt is a concept for controlling metropolitan growth introduced around London and England. The idea is a ring of countryside where urbanization is not allowed for the foreseeable future, maintaining an area where agriculture, forestry and outdoor leisure can be developed.

In 2003, the United Kingdom was hit in 2003 by an anomalous heat wave. This caused drought conditions which were particularly prevalent in the London area. The 2003 drought season is clearly highlighted in the 2004 image, where pale yellow colored areas - indicative of dry grounds - contrast the predominant green areas of 1984. The transport capacity of the River Thames also suffered from the effects of the heat wave: the network of subsurface channels that make up its estuary almost disappeared in 2004.

Technical Information:
  • Satellite: Landsat
  • Instrument: Thematic Mapper
  • Acquisition: 06-Feb-1985
  • Center coordinates: lat. 51.50, lon. -0.07

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