The Earth Observation Group (EOG) pioneered the development of monthly and annual global nighttime light products from low light imaging data collected by meteorological satellite sensors. Initially with data from the U.S. Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Operational Linescan System (OLS) and later with day / night band (DNB) data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).  EOG’s approach features a cascading series of filtration steps to exclude sunlit, moonlit, stray light and cloudy pixels.  The annual sets are then filtered to remove outliers (biomass burning, High Energy Particle (HEP) detections, some aurora) and finally the background is zeroed out.  What remains are primarily surface lighting features.

Using this formula EOG has produced a total of 57 annual and 584 monthly nighttime light products over the past two decades (Table 1). These are available on an open access basis from:  EOG’s nighttime lights product are widely used by researchers around the world and have resulted in thousands of peer review publications.  Google scholar lists 2500+ papers based on VIIRS nighttime lights and 5600+ papers based on DMSP nighttime lights.

Despite these successes, we are aware of the flaws and shortcomings of the products.  Users take the products and use them as-is, often without visual inspection, leading to erroneous results and skepticism on product validity. There are clear pathways for product improvement that would benefit large numbers of researchers and provide societal benefits.