Night-time satellite imagery acquired between October 1994 and March 1995 is here exploited to derive economic and energy-related global maps. By considering the lit area of a city, and combining this with ancillary statistical information, an analysis was performed designed to investigate the potential of night-time imagery for quantitative estimation of global socioeconomic parameters. An attempt to estimate global urban population using correlations of lit area and urban populations to derive country-level relationships accounted for over 90% of the quoted total. Furthermore, the total lit area of a country has a statistically significant high correlation value with other parameters, specifically Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and total carbon dioxide (CO2) emission. The new technique is limited by the spatial resolution of the sensor and the poorer correlation using night-time lights for centrally-planned economies. These findings offer great potential for synoptic global mapping of such parameters in the future.
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Vol. 29 • No. 3