Rapid urbanization and economic development inevitably lead to light pollution, which has become a universal environmental issue. In order to reveal the spatiotemporal patterns and evolvement rules of light pollution in China, images from 1992 to 2012 were selected from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Operational Linescan System (DMSP/OLS) and systematically corrected to ensure consistency. Furthermore, we employed a linear regression trend method and nighttime light index method to demonstrate China’s light pollution characteristics across national, regional, and provincial scales, respectively. We found that: (1) China’s light pollution expanded significantly in provincial capital cities over the past 21 years and hot-spots of light pollution were located in the eastern coastal region. The Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, and Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei regions have formed light pollution stretch areas; (2) China’s light pollution was mainly focused in areas of north China (NC) and east China (EC), which, together, accounted for over 50% of the light pollution for the whole country. The fastest growth of light pollution was observed in northwest China (NWC), followed by southwest China (SWC). The growth rates of east China (EC), central China (CC), and northeast China (NEC) were stable, while those of north China (NC) and south China (SC) declined; (3) Light pollution at the provincial scale was mainly located in the Shandong, Guangdong, and Hebei provinces, whereas the fastest growth of light pollution was in Tibet and Hainan. However, light pollution levels in the developed provinces (Hong Kong, Macao, Shanghai, and Tianjin) were higher than those of the undeveloped provinces. Similarly, the light pollution heterogeneities of Taiwan, Beijing, and Shanghai were higher than those of undeveloped western provinces.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited