The spatio-temporal pattern of urban green infrastructure and its associations with urban human mortality: A comparative study between Shanghai and Melbourne

This joint PhD project will be based at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University with a minimum 12 month stay at The University of Melbourne. Please note the deadlines associated with SJTU admission eligibility and requirements.

Project description
The project aims to reveal the spatial and temporal patterns of urban green infrastructure (UGI) in Shanghai and Melbourne using satellite images and aerial photos and map the changes of UGI in both cities. We will then explore the associations between UGI and all-cause mortality in Shanghai and Melbourne between 2000 and 2018 using various statistical methods and modelling. The results are expected to provide insights into healthy urban planning and urban public health for both cities. The project also aims to establish substantial collaboration networks among the colleagues and to advance cooperation in research and education between two universities.

We propose the hypothesis that UGI has high association with urban human mortality and can specifically reduce the mortality of some relevant diseases such as respiratory, cardiovascular, and mental etc. The specific research questions are:

  1. What’s the spatiotemporal patterns of UGI in Shanghai and Melbourne in the past three decades?
  2. How the UGI patterns evolved with urbanization processes in the two cities?
  3. Are there associations between UGI and all-cause mortality in Shanghai and Melbourne? If there are, what are the differences between the cities?
  4. What is the impact of UGI on specific disease-caused mortality of respiratory, cardiovascular and mental in Shanghai and Melbourne?

To address these questions, the project needs to collect some essential data of Shanghai and Melbourne including:

  1. time series remotely sensed imageries acquired by satellites such as Landsat, Sentinel-2, etc., and high spatial resolution commercial data such as Worldview, Quickbird, and aerial plane or vehicles;
  2. community and neighborhood based all-cause mortality and census data;
  3. the structural and compositional data of UGI which need a lot of field investigation; and
  4. socio-economic, environmental and ecological, and meteorological data.

The data collection in Shanghai will be supported by the School of Design and processed by the Shanghai based PhD student and supervised by the SJTU coordinating investigator and the committee members.

The project will conduct various analyses such as statistical analysis, spatial analysis, modeling, etc., to find whether the UGI can be accessed easily and safely, and to quantify the various ecosystem services UGI provide to urban residents in Shanghai and Melbourne, and whether there are associations and relationships between UGI and human mortality given that there are some air, soil and water pollutions.

The SJTU based student would spend 15 months at UoM (July 2022 – June 2023), where they would undertake the equivalent field sampling around Melbourne where the students have a full vegetation growing length to identify and map the UGI in Melbourne and assist the UoM student to do field work under the supervision of CI Hahs who has existing projects which also involve the collection and analysis of urban greenspaces and health data. If necessary the SJTU student will also complete any mandatory components of the UoM PhD program during this period.

From July 2023, the SJTU student would return to Shanghai where CI LI will supervise the completion of the data analyses and the writing and timely submission of the student’s PhD dissertation.

As an outcome, there are three papers that the SJTU- based PhD project would produce:

  1. The spatiotemporal patterns of urban green infrastructure and their accessibility to urban residents in Melbourne and Shanghai.
  2. The health effects of UGI on urban human population, especially on human mortality in Melbourne and Shanghai.
  3. the relationship or associations between UGI and urban human mortality, specifically on respiratory, cardiovascular, mental in Melbourne and Shanghai.

In addition, some publications to arise from the two PhD projects are considered and could be expected. All these papers will be co-authored by the Cis and students and participants from the two universities

The project will be complemented by the project The influence of site-scale characteristics of urban greenspaces on biodiversity related to human health and wellbeing: A comparative study between Shanghai and Melbourne and the collaboration will ensure a successful completion of the project.

Supervision team:

Professor Junxiang Li (Shanghai Jiao Tong University)

Dr Amy Hahs (The University of Melbourne)

How to apply

If you are interested in this opportunity, read the application guidelines before contacting the lead supervisor.