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Cities to Grab Lands Equaling Size of Mongolia In Next 20 Years, Study Predicts

In the next 20 years, more than 590,000 square miles of land globally — more than twice the size of Texas — will be gobbled up by cities, a trend that shows no signs of stopping and one that could pose threats on several levels, says a Texas A&M University geographer who is part of a national team studying the problem.

Burak Güneralp, a research assistant professor in the Department of Geography at Texas A&M, says urban areas are growing faster than urban populations and by 2030, urbanized land worldwide will grow by 590,000 square miles — more than twice the size of Texas, or about the size of Mongolia. He is part of a team that includes three other researchers from Yale, Stanford and Arizona State and their work is published in the journal PLoS ONE.

“This massive urbanization of land is happening worldwide, but India, China and Africa have experienced the highest rates of urban land expansion,” Güneralp explains. “Our study covered the 30 years from 1970 to 2000, and we found that urban growth is occurring at the highest rates in developing countries. However, it is the North America that experienced the largest increase in total urban land.”

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