National Trends in Satellite Observed Lighting: 1992-2012

Analysis of a time series of global annual satellite maps of nighttime lights spanning 21 years and six satellites reveals several distinct patterns linked to population changes, economic development and the improvements in lighting efficiency. The results indicate that there are national level differences in the behavior of nighttime lights over time. Seven categories of national lighting trends have been defined: 1) Rapid growth, 2) Moderate growth, 3) Population centric lighting, 4) Economic centric lighting, 5) Stable lighting, 6) Erratic lighting, 7) Antipole lighting. Recognition of these patterns may lead to improved spatial modeling of socioeconomic processes based on satellite observed nighttime lights.