Watertown Daily Times | The difference between night and day is disappearing


The distinction between day and night is disappearing in the most populated regions of the Earth, a rapid change with profound consequences for human health and the environment, according to an article published in the journal Science Advances on Wednesday.

We are losing more and more of the night on a planetary scale, "said editor Kip Hodges in a teleconference on the findings of the document.

From 2012 to 2016, the artificially illuminated area of ​​the Earth's surface grew According to a study conducted by Christopher Kyba of the German Geoscience Research Center, Kyba and his team badyzed high-resolution satellite images to measure the range of outdoor artificial lighting at night. that the areas of the planet that were already lit became even brighter, increasing their luminosity at a rate of 2.2 percent per year.

"Earth night is getting brighter," said Kyba. images of Kyba shows the change in the amount of night lighting between 2012 and 2016.

Much of the increase is concentrated in the Middle East and Asia. rvada in Western Australia is due to forest fires in 2012 visible from space.

These observations probably underestimate the true increase in illuminated areas and the intensity of light because the satellites used in the study are not sensitive to blue light wavelengths emitted by LED lights.

The trend shows no signs of yielding.

"In the short term, it seems that the emission of artificial light into the environment will continue to rise, further eroding the remaining area of ​​land that the natural day experiences" Night of light cycles, "the document concludes.

Recent years have seen the rapid adoption of high-efficiency LED lights for indoor and outdoor use, LEDs use only a fraction of the electricity of traditional incandescent lamps: a 20-watt LED bulb can generate the same amount of light as a 100-watt incandescent, which represents an energy saving of 80 percent.In addition, LEDs last between 10 and 20 times longer than incandescents, which represents greater cost savings.

But the rapid increase in Nighttime lighting observed by Kyba and his colleagues suggests that people respond to more economical lighting options by simply adding more light.

"While we know that LEDs are We are looking for energy in specific projects, "said Kyba in the teleconference," when we look at our data and observe the national and global levels, it indicates that these savings are being compensated for by new or brighter lights elsewhere. "

The change from incandescent to LED has been observed directly from space.

People are particularly attuned to the short wave blue light emitted by most LEDs, but have been implicated in sleep deficiencies. and other human health problems Last year, the American Medical Association issued a warning about the health risks badociated with this type of light.

Bright night lighting began to spread 100 years ago, which means we have little idea of ​​how humans or other species adapt to it evolutionary level. "Artificial light at night is a very new stressor," said Franz Holker, one of the authors of the article. has introduced in places, times and intensities where it does not occur naturally and (for) many organisms, there is no possibility of adapting to this new stressor. "

The news is not t Evil study Studies have shown, for example, that prudent use of low-level LED lighting can reduce light pollution without compromising people's sense of security. Lighting companies have been introducing "warm" LED lights that emit much less potentially harmful shortwave blue light.

"In the long term, maybe the demand for dark skies and dorms without light will begin to exceed the demand for light in rich countries," Kyba and his colleagues write.

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