A special issue of the open access online journal Remote Sensing explores scientific research of nighttime lights, citing them as a go-to data source for insight on built infrastructure and human activity levels.
The issue's lead paper takes an overall look at new sources of night imagery, the opportunities that night imagery affords and some of the challenges associated with alerting researchers to this important data source. Night imagery quality was dramatically improved in 2012 with data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite Day-Night Band (VIIRS DNB) aboard the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite as well as images taken from the NightPod instrument aboard the International Space Station.
Many unique observations come from studying the varying intensity and location of images coming from Earth. Among intriguing comparisons is the fact that U.S. cities are far brighter than German cities of a similar size, and that East Berlin emits more light per capita than West Berlin. The research shows that technology (LED lights vs. older technologies), culture, lighting codes and even street patterns greatly affect a city's brightness.
Read all of the papers in this special issue here.