London, England (1985-2004)
These two Landsat images show the growth of the city of London over a period of 19 years.
A comparison between the two images shows that London did not grow considerably from 1985 to 2004. As a matter of fact, the boundaries of Greater London remained substantially unchanged, whereas an increase of the urban areas can be envisaged only in the north-western sectors (white patches in the upper left-hand corner of the images).
The small growth of London is primarily the result of political decisions. In fact, outward growth has been physically interrupted (though by no means halted) by the creation of a Green Belt. The Green Belt is a concept for controlling metropolitan growth introduced around London and England. The idea is a ring of countryside where urbanisation is not allowed for the foreseeable future, maintaining an area where agriculture, forestry and outdoor leisure can be developed.
In 2003, the United Kingdom was hit by an anomalous heat wave. This caused drought conditions which were particularly prevalent in the London area. The 2003 drought season is clearly highlighted in the 2004 image, where pale yellow coloured areas – indicative of dry grounds – contrast the predominant green areas of 1984. The transport capacity of the River Thames also suffered from the effects of the heat wave: the network of subsurface channels that make up its estuary almost disappeared in 2004.
The first Landsat-5 image was acquired on 06 February 1985 – The winding path of the River Thames is visible in the centre of this image. The River Thames flows through southern England and is also the longest river in England. It flows through Central London, Henley-on-Thames, Richmond, Reading, Oxford and Windsor.
London Heathrow Airport is also visible from this image. Heathrow is a major international hub and is also the busiest terminal in the world.
The second Landsat-5 image was acquired on 02 March 2004 – The River Thames and London Heathrow Airport can be seen in this image.