## Group areas into continuous units - group-by

The observations in my dataset were made for 7 years and come from different geographic areas. There are almost 4,000 areas, and the challenge is that each year the grouping of observations was different. I attach the first 30 lines of the table.
For example, in year 1 the observations for areas 3, 4, and 5, were groped together and shared the same reference number 10001, and observations for areas 6, 7, and 8 have a common reference number 10002. I want to compare observations across years, and to do this I need 'continuous' spatial units which remain fixed over time. In my example, the grouping of areas 3 to 5, and of areas 6 to 8 is a starting point; I could continue with these two groups for five years but in year 6 area number 8 has the same reference number as areas 9 to 11, hence I need to dissolve all areas from 6 to 11 into a larger continuous unit. I can do this manually, but given the size of my table, this is impractical. I wonder if somebody has already met this problem and could suggest an approach in R to solve it.

## Related

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