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Posted on August 22nd, 2012

Free For All! – Night Lights

Have you been looking for nighttime satellite imagery that dates back to 1992? Or perhaps you are interested in population growth around the Globe? If so, NOAA has a dataset you need to check out: global mosaics of the DMSP-OLS Nighttime Lights Series. This dataset features 30-arc second pixels and extends back to 1992 spanning six versions of the DMSP satellites. You are able to download the raw data used to create these global mosaics from this website, though admittedly I had a hard time getting access to any data in a useable format. There are also a variety of online maps as well as WMS and WCS portals that give you access to the various products offered from the DMSP satellites.

Click on the image above to see an animation comparing nighttime lights over the East Coast of China from 1992 to those in 2009. The growth in nighttime lights (or urban areas) is dramatic for such a short time frame. This animation shows average night lights so that a light that is only visible 50% of the time has had its intensity (or brightness of the white value describing the pixel) scaled accordingly. (Data Source: NOAA)


Until my next edition of Free For All!, happy hunting for free GIS data!

Brock Adam McCarty

Map Wizard

(720) 470-7988

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