Night‐time lights satellite imagery reveals hotspots of second home mobility in rural Russia (a case study of Yaroslavl oblast)
Second home mobility is a well-known phenomenon in many countries, but is widely prominent in Russia, where millions of city-dwellers move to rural areas during the summertime. Combating long-term economic decline and depopulation, second home mobility creates a promising chance to revitalize the countryside. While this phenomenon is largely neglected by official statistics, we suggest using satellite imagery of night-time lights to investigate its spatial and temporal patterns. We did this with the example of Yaroslavl oblast in Russia. This region neighbors the Moscow Capital Region. It experiences a significant inflow of second home residents. By tracking the seasonal pixel-wise changes of night-time light radiance in monthly composites of satellite imagery from 2015 to 2019, we located hotspots of second homes and factors determining their spatial spread in rural areas. The results were evaluated with field research. Our results confirmed earlier conclusions that second homes’ locations in rural areas are largely determined by their proximity to Moscow, natural conditions, and transport accessibility. City-dwellers often choose small and even fully-abandoned villages for their second homes, which stresses the important role of second home mobility in preserving cultural landscapes. The proposed data and methods are limited by missing data for the northern regions during summer months and are more suitable for areas beyond the urban fringe where night-time lights data is not biased by the “overglow” of large cities.