Liang, H., Guo, Z., Wu, J., & Chen, Z. (2019). GDP spatialization in Ningbo City based on NPP/VIIRS night-time light and auxiliary data using random forest regression. Advances in Space Research, in press, S0273117719307136.
Abstract: Accurate spatial distribution information on gross domestic product (GDP) is of great importance for the analysis of economic development, industrial distribution and urbanization processes. Traditional administrative unit-based GDP statistics cannot depict the detailed spatial differences in GDP within each administrative unit. This paper presents a study of GDP spatialization in Ningbo City, China based on National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP)/Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) night-time light (NTL) data and town-level GDP statistical data. The Landsat image, land cover, road network and topographic data were also employed as auxiliary data to derive independent variables for GDP modelling. Multivariate linear regression (MLR) and random forest (RF) regression were used to estimate GDP at the town scale and were assessed by cross-validation. The results show that the RF model achieved significantly higher accuracy, with a mean absolute error (MAE) of 109.46 million China Yuan (CNY)·km-2 and a determinate coefficient (R2=0.77) than the MLR model (MAE=161.8 million CNY·km-2, R2=0.59). Meanwhile, by comparing with the estimated GDP data at the county level, the town-level estimated data showed a better performance in mapping GDP distribution (MAE decreased from 115.1 million CNY·km-2 to 74.8 million CNY·km-2). Among all of the independent variables, NTL, land surface temperature (Ts) and plot ratio (PR) showed higher impacts on the GDP estimation accuracy than the other variables. The GDP density map generated by the RF model depicted the detailed spatial distribution of the economy in Ningbo City. By interpreting the spatial distribution of the GDP, we found that the GDP of Ningbo was high in the northeast and low in the southwest and formed continuous clusters in the north. In addition, the GDP of Ningbo also gradually decreased from the urban centre to its surrounding areas. The produced GDP map provides a good reference for the future urban planning and socio-economic development strategies.