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China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space

 
 

In 2015, China began pumping sand onto disputed reefs in the Spratly Island group of the South China Sea. Three years later, what used to be partially submerged coral features are now fully fledged islands, hosting buildings, ports, and runways.

SpaceKnow looked at satellite images over the past decade to analyze the increase of infrastructure, land mass, ships, and planes in the disputed South China Sea. Our analytics are capable of detecting patterns and changes over a period of time for visualizing and assessing change. We recently looked into the buildup of islands in the Spratly Islands from 2009 through 2018.  These selected images showcase the larger trends at play for some of the Spratly Islands, including an increase in urbanization as well as the deployment of boats and ships to the new facilities.

Founded in 2013 in San Francisco, CA, SpaceKnow’s mission is to provide transparent access and analytics of satellite imagery to the world. SpaceKnow’s team of imaging scientists and software engineers measure and anticipate events by analyzing patterns in the imagery data. 

China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space
Fiery Cross Reef hosted 0.01 sq km of urbanization on December 25, 2009, as detected by SpaceKnow.
Image Credit: SpaceKnow
China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space
Fiery Cross Reef had 0.13 sq km of urbanization on April 18, 2015.
Image Credit: SpaceKnow
China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space
Fiery Cross Reef had 0.91 sq km of urbanization on September 3, 2017.
Image Credit: SpaceKnow
China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space
In 2015, zero ships were detected off Mischief Reef by SpaceKnow analytics.
Image Credit: SpaceKnow
China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space
On March 6, 2016, eight ships were detected off Mischief Reef.
Image Credit: SpaceKnow
China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space
On September 3, 2016, 15 ships were detected off Mischief Reef.
Image Credit: SpaceKnow
China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space
Mischief Reef Ships 4: On July 7, 2017, 16 ships were detected off Mischief Reef.
Image Credit: SpaceKnow
China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space
On December 31, 2009, zero ships were detected off Subi Reef by SpaceKnow analytics.
Image Credit: SpaceKnow
China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space
On January 26, 2015, seven ships were detected off Subi Reef.
Image Credit: SpaceKnow
China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space
On November 17, 2016, 50 ships were detected off Subi Reef.
Image Credit: SpaceKnow
China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space
SpaceKnow detected 0.00 sq km of urban infrastructure on Subi Reef on March 5, 2014.
Image Credit: SpaceKnow
China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space
SpaceKnow detected 1.19 sq km of urban infrastructure on Subi Reef by March 14, 2017.
Image Credit: SpaceKnow
China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space
In 2014, SpaceKnow analytics detected 0.00 sq km of land mass on Johnson South Reef.
Image Credit: SpaceKnow
China's Island Build-Up: The View From Space
By April 23, 3015 SpaceKnow calculated Johnson South Reef had 0.78 sq km of land mass.
Image Credit: SpaceKnow
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