Utilizing night lights imagery from NOAA’s fleet of satellites, the World Bank is analyzing night lights imagery of the world. In a recent blog post, the World Bank has announced the launch of a website which presents maps and analysis of night-lights over India, which can be extended easily to other regions and countries as well. These results are given on the nightlights.io webpage, and the data can be accessed through API also.
NOAA’s DMSP (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) is the oldest set of satellites monitoring night lights, aided in recent years by observations from the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) sensor onboard the Suomi-NPP satellite (see some more interesting applications of VIIRS here).
At NOAA, the Earth Observation Group (EOG) specialises in the analysis of night-lights imagery. One of the leading scientists and leaders of the EOG group, who has made a career out of analysing night-lights imagery, is Chris Elvidge. Besides many other applications, EOG at NOAA has previously also developed a Night Light Development Index (NLDI) as a “simple, objective, spatially explicit and globally available empirical measurement of human development derived solely from nighttime satellite imagery and population density.” A scientific paper on development of NLDI can be accessed here.
There is an also interesting Masters Thesis from ETH Zurich on “Nighttime lights as proxy for the spatial growth of dense urbanized areas”, and all relevant info is available at the World at Night website.
Finally, here is a really interested detailed article on NASA EarthObservatory detailing how satellites observe night-light imagery.
Using satellite night-lights imagery to study and analyse urban / rural sprawl and growth is a great example of how remote sensing can be used to leverage socio-economical planning and development.
See a previous post about Night-time Imaging and Video from Space.