Megaregions - networks of metropolitan centers linked by proximity, a large population, extensive economic linkages, similar topography and land use patterns, and some degree of integration of infrastructure and environmental systems – have come to play an increasingly significant role in domestic and international affairs. They are magnets for human capital, hothouses of innovation, and dynamos for economic production, yet little is known about their long-term sustainability. This project examines the sustainability of three megaregions: the Boston-Washington corridor, Greater Tokyo, and the Amsterdam-Brussels-Antwerp triangle. These “Global North” megaregions are located on separate continents and embedded in different institutional arrangements, contexts, and cultures.
The project employs geospatial data analysis to systematically explore megaregion sustainability. Important insights will be drawn from the NASA Nighttime Lights dataset, which enables quantitative distinguishing of light intensity, allowing for accurate understanding of light emission from geographic areas, including temporal changes. This data can be used to map the changing boundaries of megaregions over time, filling a gap in the literature, as the precise boundaries of megaregions are unknown and constantly shifting. Once the boundaries are determined, it is possible to overlay other types of geospatial data to generate comparative data on a range of sustainability-related issues. The geospatial analysis made possible by this DILAC grant will bring an important new dimension to megaregion research.