The impact of urban expansion on the regional environment in Myanmar: a case study of two capital cities

Chuyuan Wang, Soe Myint, Peilei Fan, Michelle Stuhlmacher, Jiachuan Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Context: This study examines the spatio-temporal patterns of urban expansion for Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, the former and new national capitals of Myanmar, and its impact on the regional environment between 2000 and 2013. Objectives: The objective is to examine different driving forces of urban expansion for Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, and their environmental consequences during Myanmar’s transitional economy. Methods: Classified time-series Landsat images are used to evaluate urban expansion processes. Environmental parameters being evaluated in this study include five sets of remotely sensed MODIS land products that are land surface temperature (LST), percent tree cover (PTC), evapotranspiration (ET), terrestrial ecosystem net primary productivity (NPP), and aerosol optical depth (AOD). A time-series trend analysis technique is used to examine the environmental consequences. Results: The built-up areas in Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon exhibit exponential and polynomial increase, respectively. A 1% increase of built-up area could potentially cause an increase of daytime LST of 0.7 °C, a PTC loss of 2.3%, a decrease in NPP of 34.3 kg/m2, and an ET decrease of 42.2 mm for Yangon. Similarly, for Nay Pyi Taw, a 1% increase in built-up area could potentially cause a daytime LST increase of 0.3 °C, a nighttime LST increase of 0.06 °C, a PTC loss of 2.5%, a decrease in NPP of 15.1 kg/m2, and a decrease of 19.2 mm ET. No significant change was observed for AOD for either city. Conclusions: Both cities have experienced extensive urban expansion but with different spatial and temporal characteristics, and their effects on the regional environment are different. Urban expansion of Nay Pyi Taw mainly was government-induced municipal infrastructure development. Yangon’s expansion is mainly caused by population pressure and migration from rural areas. The urban expansion in Yangon was mainly due to reconstruction and renovation, as well as infill development during the study period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)765-782
Number of pages18
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2018


  • Landsat
  • Myanmar
  • Regional environment
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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