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Urban Radiance, East Asia 1992-2013

As China urbanizes, Japan remains unchanged

During the past 25 years, China and South Korea have become much brighter on the DMSP images due to intense urbanization, while the radiance of Japan has stayed roughly the same. Already observed by Croft in the 1970s, the illuminated areas in the Sea of Japan are created by fishing vessels that use powerful lights to attract squid and octopus.





Total Radiance Time Series

In terms of absolute radiance, China is unmatched by any other country in the region. If we adjust for country size, we get a different picture. Compared to Japan, Korea or Taiwan, China has a lower percentage of illuminated areas. The radiance levels, uncalibrated therefore dimensionless, are subject to noise due to weather and different satellite generations.

total radiance





Radiance and Economic Development

Radiance information not only indicates where people live, it shows a strong correlation with the economic development ((GDP data from UNDP) of a country.

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