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Monitoring Trends in Light Pollution in China Based on Nighttime Satellite Imagery

Key Laboratory of Environment and Disaster Monitoring and Evaluation Institute of Geodesy and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430077, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2014, 6(6), 5541-5558;
Received: 4 March 2014 / Revised: 19 May 2014 / Accepted: 20 May 2014 / Published: 16 June 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing with Nighttime Lights)
PDF [5333 KB, uploaded 19 June 2014]


China is the largest developing country worldwide, with rapid economic growth and the highest population. Light pollution is an environmental factor that significantly influences the quality and health of wildlife, as well as the people of any country. The objective of this study is to model the light pollution spatial pattern, and monitor changes in trends of spatial distribution from 1992 to 2012 in China using nighttime light imagery from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Operational Linescan System. Based on the intercalibration of nighttime light imageries of the study area from 1992 to 2012, this study obtained the change trends map. This result shows an increase in light pollution of the study area; light pollution in the spatial scale increased from 2.08% in the period from 1992–1996 to 2000–2004, to 5.64% in the period from 2000–2004 to 2008–2012. However, light pollution change trends presented varying styles in different regions and times. In the 1990s, the increasing trend in light pollution regions mostly occurred in larger urban cities, which are mainly located in eastern and coastal areas, whereas the decreasing trend areas were chiefly industrial and mining cities rich in mineral resources, in addition to the central parts of large cities. Similarly, the increasing trend regions dominated urban cities of the study area, and the expanded direction changed from larger cities to small and middle-sized cities and towns in the 2000s. The percentages of regions where light pollution transformed to severe and slight were 5.64% and 0.39%, respectively. The results can inform and help identify how local economic and environmental decisions influence our global nighttime environment, and assist government agencies in creating environmental protection measures. View Full-Text
Keywords: nighttime light; light pollution; remote sensing; urban cities; China nighttime light; light pollution; remote sensing; urban cities; China
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Han, P.; Huang, J.; Li, R.; Wang, L.; Hu, Y.; Wang, J.; Huang, W. Monitoring Trends in Light Pollution in China Based on Nighttime Satellite Imagery. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 5541-5558.

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