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Global Population Grids: Summary Characteristics

Dataset

Source

Concept

Method

Grid Cell Size

Year(s) Represented

Source for National Level Population Totals

Distribution Policy

Unmodeled Population Grids

Gridded Population of the World (GPW), version 4

Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) - Columbia University

Nighttime population (population counted at place of domicile)

Areal weighted such that population is spread across all grid cells covering a census unit based on the proportion of the grid cell that falls in the census unit. See table of input layers below. Details.

30 arc-seconds (1 km)

2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, 2020

Two versions: 1) official country totals from census; 2) Country totals adjusted to United Nations Population Division (UNPD) estimates and projections

Open access

Lightly Modeled Population Grids

Global Human Settlement Layer – Population (GHS-POP)

European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) and Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) - Columbia University

Nighttime population (population counted at place of domicile)

Binary dasymetric* using Landsat-derived built up areas and proportional allocation to distribute population data from subnational census data to the settlement extents. See table of input layers below. Details.

7.5 arc-minutes (250 m), 30 arc-seconds (1 km) (World Mollweide projection)

1975, 1990, 2000, 2015

United Nations Population Division (UNPD) estimates and projections

Open access

Global Rural Urban Mapping Project (GRUMP)

Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) - Columbia University; International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), The World Bank, Centro Internacional de Agricultural Tropical (CIAT)

Nighttime population (population counted at place of domicile)

Binary dasymetric* using DMSP-OLS nighttime lights and proportional allocation to distribute population data from subnational census data to the settlement extents. See table of input layers below. Details.

30 arc-seconds (1 km)

1990, 1995, 2000

United Nations Population Division (UNPD) estimates and projections

Open access

Highly Modeled Population Grids

History Database of the Global Environment (HYDE) Population Grids, version 3.1

Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL)

Nighttime population

Historical population, cropland and pasture statistics are combined with satellite information and specific allocation algorithms (which change over time) to create spatially explicit dasymetric* population maps. Details.

5 arc-minutes (10km)

10,000 BC to 2000 AD (10,000 BC, 5,000 BC, 0 AD, 500 AD, 1000 AD, 1500 AD, 1600 AD, 1700 AD, 1800 AD, 1900 AD, 1950 AD, 2000 AD)

Population estimates are generally on the high end of the range of past estimates

Open access

LandScan Global Population database

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

Day time (ambient) population

Spatial data and imagery analysis technologies and a multi-variable dasymetric* modeling approach are used to disaggregate census counts within an administrative boundary. The population distribution models are tailored to match the data conditions and geographical nature of each country and region. See table of input layers below. Details.

30 arc-seconds (1 km)

annual releases 2000 - 2016 (current version)

US Census Bureau

Commercial / Free for research use

World Population Estimate

ESRI

Mixed (45% of countries are nighttime populations), based on available national population estimates, though progressing toward nighttime with each new release

Dasymetric* mapping based on four inputs: BaseVue 30-m landcover for urban classes; 75-m grid of presence/absence of road intersections; 75-m geonames populated place points buffered by 5 cells; landsat8 15-m panchromatic rugosity with regional threshold for levels of landscape disturbance equating to human settlement. Details.  See table of input layers below.

150 meter (2016), 250 meter (earlier)

2013, 2015, and 2016, with 2017 planned for fall 2018.

Country-official estimates with 134 countries processed further by Michael Bauer Research GmbH.

Commercial / Free to ArcGIS Users

WorldPop

WorldPop

High spatial resolution, temporally-explicit data on human population and demographic distributions

Top-down approach that relies on a statistically-based weighting layer combined with a dasymetric* redistribution. See table of input layers below. Details.

3-arc seconds (100 meter)

2000-2020 globally and country-specific years

Two versions: 1) Country-official estimates, and 2) United Nations Population Division (UNPD) estimates and projections

Open access

* Dasymetric mapping approaches rely on ancillary data to spatially disaggregate census counts from administrative / census units in an effort to develop higher resolution data products that more faithfully represent population distribution on the ground. The simplest approach is binary dasymetric mapping, which uses one other data layer (such as satellite-derived built-up areas or urban extents) to move populations from census units (which are sometimes large) to areas identified as settlements. Other techniques use a variety of ancillary data, including urban extents, land cover data, and slope, as well as spatial “masks” to exclude populations from protected areas or military reserves, to move populations using statistical weighting algorithms to inform final gridded outputs.