After giving an introductory lecture focusing on spatial methods to analyse urbanization using remote sensing data it was finally time to present initial findings of the changing urban landscape in Istanbul from 2000 to 2013. The analysis was conducted together with my colleague and graduate student Mr. Eigo TATEISHI and make use of a dataset called MOD13QI (MODIS EVI) which is available free of charge from NASA. However, before entering the analysis I would like to provide a few recent facts about the urbanization in Istanbul during recent years. This process is highly controversial and has stirred political turbulence providing news widely spread around the globe. Rapid urban land development is in many settings, not only in an emerging market context, controversial. Making land available for private or public development can cause environmental problems for example in the case of Istanbul turning the forest area surrounding the city to urban and built up areas or social and economic problems when suburban areas used by city dwellers with less financial capacity are converted into more expensive housing for the city´s population that can afford higher rents. In recent years the city planning strategy has been focused on large scale development projects called mega projects (see below images from Turkish media).
To mention a few among many projects; the third international airport located on the European side of the city to ease the congested Atatürk Airport, on the European side of Istanbul and Sabiha Gökçen International on the Asian side, a channel for sea freight connecting the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara to ease the congested Bosphorus, subway tunnel to connect the Asian and European sides of the city, public housing and real estate projects catering for the city´s growing middle class´s demand for high quality and more luxurious housing in suburban locations. The spatial/temporal analysis of the changing land use patterns in Istanbul clearly find patterns were land used for forest and other vegetation has been converted into urban and built up area during last 13 years. The analysis is conducted using a resolution of 250m indicating a relationship between areas with observed large scale and infrastructure (see below image). The analysis based on satellite images conducted by me with very limited knowledge about the urban development in Istanbul clearly needed the contextual knowledge provided by my colleagues here. Once the results of the initial analysis were presented comments and suggestions were delivered. The main comments relate to find accurate measures on the extent of the urbanization in order to compare different districts in the city and the relationship between urban expansion and the present infrastructure development. There is definitely scope to develop the initial spatial analysis into an article which hopefully can be co-authored by colleagues from my host university. This would be a great outcome of my two weeks Erasmus scholarship and a great start for in-depth collaboration with Bahçeşehir University. The next steps of my stay here will be devoted to providing lectures on the GIS methods used for remote sensing analysis and to refine and expand my present analysis on Istanbul. A first brief with initial results must be ready for distribution to Turkish media before I leave so there is plenty of work to be done.