A Tale of Two Cities

By Tom Yulsman | May 15, 2013 11:18 pm

A screenshot from a timelapse of Landsat images showing the growth of Shanghai since 1984. Click for the timelapse animation.

I launched the ImaGeo blog here at Discover back in February, and ever since I’ve been focusing on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet. Starting Thursday, May 16, I’ll be slowing down a bit on my posts as I head off to China and Cambodia for a few weeks.

I plan on continuing to blog here at ImaGeo while I’m gone. Just not every day. I’m particularly interested in the phenomenon of megacities. Along those lines, check out the image above. It’s a screenshot of a timelapse animation consisting of Landsat images showing the growth of Shanghai since 1984. Click on it to see the animation on Google’s Earth Engine.

The growth of Shanghai’s urbanized area is simply astonishing. It has been driven by rapid industrialization and a rise in population from about 12 million people in 1984 to 23 million today.

I’m bringing two cameras on my trip, and I hope to share photographs and other imagery while I’m away.

I’ll also be visiting the famed Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia. Recent archeological evidence suggests that in the 15th century, it became the world’s first pre-industrial megacity — and it covered something on the order of 700 square miles. That’s about the size of greater London.

For now, I’m intrigued by the tale of two cities theme. But who knows what else I’ll find?

So stay tuned for updates from Asia. And thank you for reading ImaGeo!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Anthropocene, select, Top Posts
  • Tom Fuller

    Greetings from Shanghai! You’re in for a treat. But I’m jealous–haven’t been to Angkor Wat yet.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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