Christopher Elvidge
Senior Research Associate
Director of Earth Observation Group

Christopher D. Elvidge has 23 years of experience with satellite low light imaging data, starting in 1994. Initially this was with data collected by the U.S. Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Operational Linescan System. From 2012 forward, the effort has been with data from NOAA’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite. Elvidge pioneered the development of global nighttime lights and lead the production of a 21-year time series of global DMSP nighttime lights (1992-2013). His nighttime lights from DMSP and VIIRS are now a widely used satellite data product in a diverse range of fields, ranging from biology, urban sciences, economics, and astronomy. Elvidge was instrumental in establishing the DMSP digital archive at NOAA and lead the media migration needed to retain the digital records.

Starting in 2000, he led the development of near-real time data services for satellite derived low light imaging data.  Initially this was the provision of nighttime DMSP suborbits to fishery agencies in Japan, Korea, and Thailand. These early near real time services evolved in the VIIRS era to SMS and email alerts for the detection of boats in Marine Protected Areas and restricted coastal waters in Indonesia and Philippines.  In 2012 Elvidge conceived of and lead the development of a global multispectral nighttime fire product known as VIIRS nightfire using a combination of near-infrared, shortwave infrared and mid-wave infrared channels. VNF uses physical laws to calculate the temperature, source area, and radiant heat of combustion sources. VNF is the only global fire product reporting temperature and source area on 24-hour increments. The inclusion of SWIR bands results in an ability to construct global surveys of gas flaring sites and estimate flared gas volumes.  Approximately 12,000 flaring sites are identified worldwide every year by Elvidge’s team.

In 2014, Elvidge developed methods for discriminating flaming and smoldering combustion using nighttime Landsat data.  This distinction is significant for modelling smoke production. Also in 2014, Elvidge developed a nighttime boat detection product for VIIRS. These data are now used by fishery agencies Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines. Elvidge has been actively publishing papers since 1978. As of February 2018, he has more than 11,000 scholarly publication citations.

PhD, 1985, Stanford University, Applied Earth Sciences
MS, 1979, Arizona State University, Geology
BS, 1977, Southern Illinois University, Geology
BA, 1975, Southern Illinois University, Botany