The nature of the diffuse light near cities detected in nighttime satellite imagery

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Sánchez de Miguel, Alejandro
Kyba, Christopher C. M.
Gaston, Kevin J.
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Difuse glow has been observed around brightly lit cities in nighttime satellite imagery since at least the frst publication of large scale maps in the late 1990s. In the literature, this has often been assumed to be an error related to the sensor, and referred to as “blooming”, presumably in relation to the efect that can occur when using a CCD to photograph a bright light source. Here we show that the efect seen on the DMSP/OLS, SNPP/VIIRS-DNB and ISS is not only instrumental, but in fact represents a real detection of light scattered by the atmosphere. Data from the Universidad Complutense Madrid sky brightness survey are compared to nighttime imagery from multiple sensors with difering spatial resolutions, and found to be strongly correlated. These results suggest that it should be possible for a future space-based imaging radiometer to monitor changes in the difuse artifcial skyglow of cities.
© The Authors. This work was supported by the EMISSI@N project (NERC grant NE/P01156X/1), COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action ES1204 LoNNe (Loss of the Night Network), the ORISON project (H2020-INFRASUPP-2015-2), the Cities at Night project, the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no 689443 via project GEOEssential, FPU grant from the Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnologia and F. Sánchez de Miguel. We acknowledge the support of the Spanish Network for Light Pollution Studies (MINECO AYA2011-15808-E) and also from STARS4ALL, a project funded by the European Union H2020-ICT-2015-688135. This work has been partially funded by the Spanish MICINN (AYA2016-75808-R), and by the Madrid Regional Government through the TEC2SPACE-CM Project (P2018/NMT-4291). The ISS images are courtesy of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center. CCMK acknowledges the funding received through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme ERA-PLANET, grant agreement no. 689443, via the GEOEssential project, and funding from the Helmholtz Association Initiative and Networking Fund under grant ERC-RA-0031. We thank J. Coesfeld for producing Fig. 1. We thank the organizers of the LPTMM 2013 conference for providing a stimulating forum in which we discussed the nature of the diffuse light around cities in detail. Thanks to Emma R. Howard for her help in the editing of this article.
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