Friday, 26 February, 2021


Earth's Night Skies Getting Brighter

Alarming increase in light pollution worldwide says study Earth's Night Skies Getting Brighter
Kristine Garrett | 23 November, 2017, 20:11

And if the current rate of artificial light growth continues, then by 2050 the illuminated area of the Earth at nighttime will be twice what it was in 2012, it finds.

The study in the journal Science Advances is based on satellite data showing that the Earth's night is getting brighter, and artificially lit outdoor surfaces grew at a pace of 2.2 percent per year from 2012 to 2016.

"Many people are using light at night without really thinking about the costs", he told reporters.

Artificial light is found to be growing brighter and becoming more extensive every year, as the world's nights are slowly being lost. They compared images from October 2012 with those from October 2016 to make the comparisons.

Los Angeles at night.

Australia's lit area decreased due to wildfires.

The researchers studied images collected by NASA's Suomi NPP weather satellite, which among other things contains a Day/Night Band instrument, a nighttime sensor that can detect low-light emissions to a resolution of 750 meters (around 2,500 feet).

The trend shows no sign of relenting.

The researchers say that the biological impact of surging artificial light is significant, which can lead to anything from disturbed sleep in humans and animals alike to disruptions in migration and reproduction of birds, fish, amphibians, insects and bats.

Light pollution has increased worldwide because of the prevalence of energy saving LED lights.

"The fact that the median country's 15 percent increase in lighting from 2012 to 2016 almost matched the median 13 percent increase in GDP suggests that outdoor light use remains subject to a large rebound effect on the global scale", according to the study. Beyond that, LEDs also last 10 to 20 times as long as incandescents, representing more cost savings.

"While we know that LEDs save energy in specific projects", Kyba said at the teleconference, "when we look at our data and we look at the national and the global level, it indicates that these savings are being offset by either new or brighter lights in other places". The IDA also urges people to only use outdoor lighting when necessary, including installing motion detector lights so that they would only activate when needed.

The shift from incandescents to LEDs has been directly observable from space. Rather than being content with the savings made, it appears that there has been a "rebound" effect, in which many towns chose to install even more lights as a result, precisely because of these savings. Last year, the American Medical Association issued a warning about health risks associated with this type of light.

"Earth's night is getting brighter".

Ecologist Franz Hölker of Germany's Leibniz-Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) said light pollution has ecological consequences, with natural light cycles disrupted by artificial light introduced into the nighttime environment. The light pollution being emitted from places like Spain and the United States stayed constant, rather than falling, while the pollution from developing nations also continued to grow. Studies have shown, for instance, that judicious use of low-level LED lighting can reduce light pollution without compromising peoples' sense of safety. "Transitions to LED lighting greatly increase this 'skyglow, ' because the clear sky predominantly scatters short-wavelength light", the study explains.

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