In the Spotlight: Using Nighttime Light Emissions to Assess Energy Consumption and Poverty

EarthzineDevelop Summer 2017, DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

This article is a part of the NASA DEVELOP’s Summer 2017 Virtual Poster Session. For more articles like these, click here

Project Team: Thailand Cross-Cutting

Team Location: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center at NSSTC ‰ÛÒ Huntsville, Alabama

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Helen Baldwin

Maggi Klug

Krisda Tapracharoen

Chayanan Nan Visudchindaporn


Dr. Jeffrey Luvall (NASA at NSSTC)

Dr. Robert Griffin (University of Alabama in Huntsville)

Eric Anderson (NASA SERVIR Science Coordination Office)

Leigh Sinclair (University of Alabama in Huntsville/Information Technology and Systems Center)

This image shows the normalized, yearly average night time light emissions in Thailand for 2015. The data comes from Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band. Image Credit: Thailand Cross-Cutting Team


While poverty in Thailand has decreased from 67 percent in 1986 to 13 percent in 2012, 6.7 million people were still living within 20 percent of the poverty line in 2014. Economic uncertainty caused by recurring droughts and decreasing agricultural prices puts this vulnerable part of the population at risk of dropping below the national poverty line in the future. To address this issue, the DEVELOP team worked with the Office of Science and Technology (OSTC) at the Royal Thai Embassy, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), and the NASA SERVIR Science Coordination Office to formulate a new method of analyzing poverty within Thailand. This project utilized the monthly composite product for 2012-2015 produced by the Earth Observations Group (EOG) at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC). Additionally, this project incorporated socio-economic data from Thailand’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology’s National Statistical Office and Ministry of Education’s National Education Information System to create an enhanced poverty index. This new poverty index will provide the Thai government a cost-effective way to analyze changes of poverty within the nation and inform policymaking.

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