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Remote Sens Lett. 2014 Jan 1;5(3):286-294.

Nighttime lights time series of tsunami damage, recovery, and economic metrics in Sumatra, Indonesia.

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Department of Geography, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1524, USA.
Department of Public Policy Studies, Duke University, RH178 201 Science Drive, Durham NC 27708-0312, USA.
Economics Department, Duke University, Box 90097, Durham, NC 27708, USA.


On 26 December 2004, a magnitude 9.2 earthquake off the west coast of the northern Sumatra, Indonesia resulted in 160,000 Indonesians killed. We examine the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program-Operational Linescan System (DMSP-OLS) nighttime light imagery brightness values for 307 communities in the Study of the Tsunami Aftermath and Recovery (STAR), a household survey in Sumatra from 2004 to 2008. We examined night light time series between the annual brightness and extent of damage, economic metrics collected from STAR households and aggregated to the community level. There were significant changes in brightness values from 2004 to 2008 with a significant drop in brightness values in 2005 due to the tsunami and pre-tsunami nighttime light values returning in 2006 for all damage zones. There were significant relationships between the nighttime imagery brightness and per capita expenditures, and spending on energy and on food. Results suggest that Defense Meteorological Satellite Program nighttime light imagery can be used to capture the impacts and recovery from the tsunami and other natural disasters and estimate time series economic metrics at the community level in developing countries.

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