Published: Thu, November 23, 2017
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Artificial lights increasing 'loss of night,' especially in some nations

Artificial lights increasing 'loss of night,' especially in some nations

Artificial lighting at night is contributing to an alarming increase in light pollution, both in amount and in brightness, affecting places all over the world, a new study has found.

They also advice on using more efficient ways to illuminate places such as parking lots or city streets, saying dim, closely spaced lights, for example, tend to provide better visibility than bright lights that are more spread out.

Study leader Christopher Kyba, of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, said their findings shatter the long-held notion that using energy-efficient lighting increases awareness of light pollution. Their measurements coincide with the outdoor switch to energy-efficient and cost-saving light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.

The researchers said the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather satellite data may understate the situation because its sensor can not detect some of the LED lighting that is becoming more widespread, specifically blue light. This shows that it is possible to ensure the same level of prosperity and security with a use more restricted to the artificial light, argues the researcher. But light pollution is nearly certainly on the rise in those countries given this elusive blue light, said Christopher Kyba of the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences and lead author of the study published in Science Advances.

But as LED lights become more efficient and cheaper people have chosen to use more of them, rather than holding on to their energy savings - a process known as the "rebound effect".

"Honestly, I had thought and assumed and hoped that with LEDs we were turning the corner".

These scientists, led by Fabio Falci, a researcher of the Italian Institute of technology and the science of light pollution (ISTIL), explained that " the light levels of the LED technology and its colours could lead to a doubling or even a tripling of the luminescence of the sky during the dark nights ". "It is quite disappointing". During the second half of the 20th century, artificial outdoor light grew steadily, prompting inquiry into whether that trend will continue.

People's sleep can be marred, which in turn can affect their health.

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Plants can have abnormally extended growing periods when exposed to the glare of artificial light, they add. Lighting changes varied greatly by country, far exceeding the global rate in some cases, and with decreases in radiance in only a few (such as Yemen and Syria, both experiencing warfare). Researchers were unable to filter out the bright burning light.

"With few exceptions, growth in lighting occurred throughout South America, Africa, and Asia", said the report.

More and more places are installing outdoor lighting given its low cost and the overall growth in communities' wealth, the scientists noted. People may buy a auto that requires less fuel, then decide to drive it more often or move further from work, lengthening their commute.

Photos taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station also illuminate the growing problem.

According to the Newspaper, Doctors said the amount of light the human eye can adjust to and finds useful is between 400 and 500 microns.

Excess nighttime light not only harms natural habitats and makes stargazing impossible, it also costs almost seven billion dollars annually in "negative impacts on wildlife, health, astronomy, and wasted energy", according to a 2010 study in the journal Ecological Economics.

But many rich nations stayed just as bright, with city areas in the US, UK, and Europe becoming even brighter.

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