Zhang, QL; Schaaf, C; Seto, KC (2013). The Vegetation Adjusted NTL Urban Index: A new approach to reduce saturation and increase variation in nighttime luminosity. REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 129, 32-41.
The science and policy communities increasingly require information about inter-urban variability in form, infrastructure, and energy use for cities globally and in a timely manner. Nighttime light (Nil) data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program/Operational Linescan System (DMSP/OLS) are able to provide information on nighttime luminosity, a correlate of the built environment and energy consumption. Although NTL data are used to map aggregate measures of urban areas such as total area extent, their ability to characterize inter-urban variation is limited due to saturation of the data values, especially in urban cores. Here we propose a new spectral index, the Vegetation Adjusted NTL Urban Index (VANUI), which combines MODIS NDVI with Nil, to achieve three key goals. First, the index reduces the effects of NTL saturation. Second, the index increases variation of the NTL signal, especially within urban areas. Third, the index corresponds to biophysical and urban characteristics. Additionally, the index is intuitive, simple to implement, and enables rapid characterization of inter-urban variability in nighttime luminosity. Assessments of VANUI show that it significantly reduces NTL saturation and increases variation of data values in core urban areas. As such, VANUI can be useful for studies of urban structure, energy use, and carbon emissions. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.