The city of Dongying is prominent in the 2010 image. Its current population is over 1.2 million. But you won’t find the city in the 1976 or 1979 images because it isn’t there. Dongying was established in 1983 with the opening of an oilfield on the northern delta.
Also noticeable in the time series images is the expansion of salt and shrimp farms, displayed by the dark geometric shapes along the coast. These farms were built on what were once tidal flats, a muddy coast that served as a buffer against storm erosion. Extensive development has degraded the tidal flats, resulting in increased coastal erosion.
The aquaculture development on the delta can have positive effects. While many of the shapes seen in the images are salt fields, many are shrimp farms that have recently moved toward culturing different seafood such as sea cucumber and crabs. These species have a lower carbon footprint, and shellfish also help clean the coastal waters. Another species beginning to be farmed is algae, which are at the very bottom of the food chain. Algae, often used as a nutritional supplement, are great at sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The rapid population growth in this area puts pressure on water resources and on the land, which has to grow increasing amounts of food. The region will need to plan carefully for the growth that accompanies economic development.