Relationship between urban size and configuration: Scaling evidence from a hierarchical system in Mexico

Gustavo A. Ovando-Montejo, Peter Kedron, Amy E. Frazier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Cities continue to grow, and the increase of impervious surface area is becoming a primary indicator of urbanization as well as environmental quality. Evaluating how impervious surfaces are shaped and distributed across urban systems can provide key insights into how cities are impacting global environmental change and how their impacts might change as cities evolve and grow. Many urban characteristics, both physical and social, have been found to follow power law distributions across a system of cities, but it is not yet know whether urban configurational characteristics adhere to these laws. This study seeks to determine if the relationship between impervious surface area as a dimension of urban size and a suite of spatial metrics measuring urban configuration follow power law-like relationship distributions across a hierarchy of cities in the urban system of Mexico. Results suggest that several metrics do follow these characteristic patterns and that configuration complexity increases with city size, but at a slower rate than impervious surface. Scaling exponents, which can provide insights into system dynamics and the mechanisms driving relationships, were sublinear for certain metrics, supporting similar extant work, but deviated from theorized values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102462
JournalApplied Geography
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Cities
  • Impervious surface
  • Land system architecture
  • Landscape metrics
  • Scaling laws
  • Spatial pattern metrics
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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