Artificial light, mainly powered by electricity, is essential to human activity, especially during night time. Butit has come to detrimental levels in some areas of the globe.Thus, the term light pollution.
The Detrimental Effects of Artificial Light
A news item written by NBC’s Denise Chow outlined the harmful effects of excessive artificial light emissions. These unwanted problems include human health issues such as sleeping and weight disorders; and disturbed environment of plants and animals that naturally spend more time or thrive in darkness.
Problems Posed on Space Study
Unnecessary Artificial Light also makes the astronomers’ job of studying the earth and the universe difficult as they need dark skies to achieve thorough space observation.
Interactive World Map
An interactive world map featuring how artificial light has increased its emissions overtime is carried by newly launched website Radiance Light Trends. The map indicates areas where the skies are relatively dark at night, and those which are considered hot spots, indicated by blue, and those marked with black but replaced with colors indicating artificial lights’ glow during evenings.
Establishment of Radiance Light Trends was coordinated by Potsdam-based German Research Centre for Geosciences. It is part of GEOEssential, a project funded by the European Union.
The map’s data include information of already decommissioned spy satellites operating during the 1992 to 2013 period. Data covering 2012 to date has been provided by aNASA-NationalOceanicand Atmospheric Administration jointly operated satellite. Automatically, the map is updated when new satellite image is fed.
Website users can click on specific regions; come back in time, and would be shown how a region’s light emissions underwent changes through time.Included landmarks such as roads and cities, makes easier the work of locating specific areas of interest.
The tool is meant to be used not only by those working in the scientific world, but by the public as well.According toPhysicist Christopher Kyba of said center, the tool is intended to be accessed by anyone free of charge. Kyba said the website endeavors to facilitate understanding of the changing artificial light and the “skyglow” of cities.
In addition, this interactive map reflecting changes in cityscape illustration can provide an in-depth understanding and insightsin the development of strategies to help humanity cope with the adverse effects of artificial light.
Thecityscape illustrationcan thus be viewed as an important tool for scientists, social science scholars and policy makers in their work of improving human lives.