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30 Apr 2009: Dubai’s Urban Sprawl

In these photographs, NASA satellites capture the explosive growth of Dubai on the Persian Gulf between 2002 and 2008. These false-color thermal images of Dubai — one of the 7 United Arab Emirates — depict vegetated areas in red, buildings in gray, and the desert in beige. The image at left,

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NASA
NASA images illustrate explosive growth in Dubai from 2002 to 2008.
taken in October 2002, shows the early stages of construction of Palm Jumeirah, a vast commercial development built by dredging 3.9 billion cubic feet of sand from the gulf and depositing it in the shape of a giant palm tree. The finished look of Palm Jumeirah — which contains shops, hotels, and apartments and is protected from the gulf by 7 miles of rocky breakwater — can be seen in the image at right, taken in November 2008. That recent image also shows the exponential growth of Dubai, a city-state of 1.2 million and a major commercial hub in the oil-rich Persian Gulf region. Just to the east of Palm Jumeirah, the fairways of an irrigated golf course, pictured in red, can be seen. Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other emirates aspire to become models of green development, but the massive landfill projects, irrigation, and sprawl depicted here come at considerable environmental cost.

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