Elvidge, C. D., Ghosh, T., Hsu, F. - C., Zhizhin, M., & Bazilian, M. (2020). The Dimming of Lights in China during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Remote Sensing, 12(17), 2851.
Abstract: A satellite survey of the cumulative radiant emissions from electric lighting across China reveals a large radiance decline in lighting from December 2019 to February 2020—the peak of the lockdown established to suppress the spread of COVID-19 infections. To illustrate the changes, an analysis was also conducted on a reference set from a year prior to the pandemic. In the reference period, the majority (62%) of China’s population lived in administrative units that became brighter in March 2019 relative to December 2018. The situation reversed in February 2020, when 82% of the population lived in administrative units where lighting dimmed as a result of the pandemic. The dimming has also been demonstrated with difference images for the reference and pandemic image pairs, scattergrams, and a nightly temporal profile. The results indicate that it should be feasible to monitor declines and recovery in economic activity levels using nighttime lighting as a proxy.