Global Light Pollution is On the Rise (Study)

Artificial light on Earth, seen from above

Our planet’s night skies are filled with artificial light more and more each year. And this is happening in both developed and developing countries, a sign that humanity keeps on expanding in previously unexplored areas. However, a new study published by the journal Science Advances shows that for four years between 2012 and 2016, regions that are artificially lit became even brighter, with 2.2%. Moreover, the are where artificial light was present also expanded by 2.2%.

When the researchers took into account the specific countries where this happened, they noticed that artificial light in developing countries was increasing above average. This means that more and more people now have access to electricity and sources of artificial light which they use for lighting up highways, streets and city centers. The researchers obtained this data from the satellite called Suomi NPP.

More and more artificial light on Earth

It’s even more interesting that the amount of artificial light also increases in the developed countries, despite serious efforts to stop this from happening. This phenomenon bears the name of light pollution and unsurprisingly, it has a lot of side effects and even negative ones. Among those are the disruption of the circadian rhythms of animals, plants and people.

For this study, the experts used an instrument which is located on the Suomi NPP satellite called Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite. This instrument also includes a sensor that is called The Day/Night Band. The idea behind it was to allow experts to obtain high-resolution images of the clouds above Earth at night. The purpose of those is to help with weather forecasting.

So, because tis satellite orbits the planet from pole to pole, it manages to capture an impressive view of it twice a day. According to the new study, the most impressive growth in artificial lightning was in Africa, South America and Asia. Meanwhile, regions like Yemen and Syria registered a decrease, mainly because of the conflicts there.

Image source: nasa.gov

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