A simple self-adjusting model for correcting the blooming effects in DMSP-OLS nighttime light images

Xin Cao, Yang Hu, Xiaolin Zhu, Feng Shi, Li Zhuo, Jin Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Night-time light (NTL) data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) Operation Linescan System (OLS) provide important observations of human activities; however, DMSP-OLS NTL data suffer from problems such as saturation and blooming. This research developed a self-adjusting model (SEAM) to correct blooming effects in DMSP-OLS NTL data based on a spatial response function and without using any ancillary data. By assuming that the pixels adjacent to the background contain no lights (i.e., pseudo light pixels, PLPs), the blooming effect intensity, a parameter in the SEAM model, can be estimated by pixel-based regression using PLPs and their neighboring light sources. SEAM was applied to all of China, and its performance was assessed for twelve cities with different population sizes. The results show that SEAM can largely reduce the blooming effect in the original DMSP-OLS dataset and enhance its quality. The images after blooming effect correction have higher spatial similarity with Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) images and higher spatial variability than the original DMSP-OLS data. We also found that the average effective blooming distance is approximately 3.5 km in China, which may be amplified if the city is surrounded by water surfaces, and that the blooming effect intensity is positively correlated to atmospheric quality. The effectiveness of the proposed model will improve the capacity of DMSP-OLS images for mapping the urban extent and modeling socioeconomic parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-411
Number of pages11
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • Blooming
  • Nighttime light
  • Self-adjusting model
  • Spatial response function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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