PhD Defense – Jason Shapiro

Candidate: Jason Shapiro
Doctor of Philosophy in Earth Systems and Geoinformation Sciences
Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science

Date: Friday, December 2, 2016
Time: 1:00 PM
Place: Exploratory Hall 2304


Director: Dr. Donglian Sun
Committee Members: Dr. Matthew Rice, Dr. Terry Slonecker, Dr. Stephen Fuller

Airports are often seen as powerful anchors for urban development causing domino effects of induced impacts. Business activity caused by airports creates employment and population growth, resulting in increased urban development.
A case study of Washington Dulles International Airport is investigated to better understand the relationship between airports and urban development. The research is divided into four parts:

1. Models of urban development clustering;
2. Analysis of variables influencing urban density;
3. Temporal analysis of airport urban development dynamics; and
4. Tests of the causality relationship between airports and urban development.

The models of urban development clustering developed use a diverse set of economic and environmental urban density proxy measures including the intensity of night time lights, surface temperature, the existence of impervious surfaces, as well as property values and rents. The proxy measures are applied in an Anselin Local Moran I Cluster Analysis and in a Geographic Weighted Regression (GWR) to investigate and model the airport-urban development relationship. The Anselin Local Moran I Analysis detects, delineates, and investigates urban development clustering near an airport. A GWR investigates the impact of explanatory variables including distance to the airport, primary roads, and the central business district on urban development.
The analysis also considers the statistical significance and spatial diffusion of explanatory variables in anchoring urban development.

The results can be summarized in four key findings suggesting that there is an independent urban cluster near Dulles Airport and the airport has had a significant influence in the area’s urban dynamics:
1. Dulles Airport has anchored urban development;
2. Airport operations have affected the magnitude of development;
3. An independent urban cluster exists near Dulles Airport; and
4. Several factors in addition to the existence of the airport explain the urban development.

This research advances the science relating to the airport–urbanization relationship in several ways.
1. An empirical model for induced airport impacts on urbanization is developed. Previous efforts have focused on direct and indirect impacts such as the relationship between airports and employment and property values without addressing the induced impacts on urbanization. Other studies have conceptually identified this relationship without testing it empirically.
2. It models urban development at the local level rather than at the regional or state/nationwide level. It examines the influence of the airport and the local spatial distribution of urban development using 1200 meter cells. Previous studies examined urban development impacts from airports at a regional scale covering a metropolitan area or a larger geographic extent.
3. Remote sensing and GIS are used to model the relationship between the airport and urbanization. Previous studies have used an economic and conceptual analysis of airport-anchored development, but did not apply remote sensing data and GIS to examine the impacts.
4. It develops a case study for Washington Dulles International Airport that models airport-induced urbanization. Previous studies have conceptually identified Dulles Airport as anchoring urbanization, but have not empirically modelled the airport’s impacts on urbanization.
5. Urban clusters of development proximate to Dulles Airport are detected and delineated. The development of the Dulles Airport-anchored urban clusters is examined using the relationship of airport proximity with other explanatory variables, including distance to primary roads and the central business district. In addition, the spatial diffusion and land use of the urban clusters are analyzed. Previous studies have focused on conceptual and direct and indirect models, but have not empirically analyzed airport-anchored clusters.