Extending the DMSP Nighttime Lights Time Series beyond 2013

Payne Research Associate Tilottama Ghosh, Kimberly E. Baugh, Payne Senior Research Associate, Director of Earth Observation Group Christopher Elvidge, Payne Research Associate Mikhail Zhizhin, Alexey Poyda, and Payne Research Associate Feng-Chi Hsu write about data collected by the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program’s Operational Linescan System (DMSP-OLS) sensors have been archived and processed by the Earth Observation Group (EOG) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to make global maps of nighttime images since 1994. Over the years, the EOG has developed automatic algorithms to make Stable Lights composites from the OLS visible band data by removing the transient lights from fires and fishing boats. The ephemeral lights are removed based on their high brightness and short duration. However, the six original satellites collecting DMSP data gradually shifted from day/night orbit to dawn/dusk orbit, which is to an earlier overpass time. At the beginning of 2014, the F18 satellite was no longer collecting usable nighttime data, and the focus had shifted to processing global nighttime images from Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day/Night Band (DNB) data. Nevertheless, it was soon discovered that the F15 and F16 satellites had started collecting pre-dawn nighttime data from 2012 onwards. Therefore, the established algorithms of the previous years were extended to process OLS data from 2013 onwards.  December 9, 2021.