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Interactive map shows how light pollution impacts where your live

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A new interactive map tool tracks how much light pollution exists in your community.

The Radiance Light Trends website, which went live this month, presents a world map that shows where night skies are still relatively dark and where there are hot spots — areas where the blues and black indicating darkness are replaced by greens, yellows and reds indicating the glow of artificial light at night.

"This web application allows you to examine changes in nighttime light emissions (nearly) worldwide, from 1992 up until last month," the site reads.

Artificial light disrupts the behavior of plants and animals, which evolved in a world without light from buildings, streetlights and other sources. In addition, light pollution has been linked to health problems in humans, including sleep disorders and obesity.

"Both of the satellite instruments scanned (nearly) the entire Earth each night, but the DMSP typically passed overhead around 8:30 pm, while VIIRS DNB passes over much later, around 1:30 am. The Earth is brightly illuminated by moonlight when the satellites pass over several days per month, and on any given night, much of the Earth is obscured by cloud. For more than two decades, the team of Chris Elvidge and Kimberly Baugh have produced global annual satellite observed nighttime lights data products. They were based initially at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminsitration’s National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, Colorado."

"Even far away from artificial lights, the world is not entirely dark. It is lit by starlight, aurora light, and “airglow”, and the satellite has some sensitivity to this light, especially around the polar regions. In areas that are mainly unlit, changes in airglow or the satellite calibration may affect all of the pixels similarly. Fires can also produce very bright temporary light emissions, and false signals caused by solar radiation appear over a certain region near the southern Atlantic."

Check out the map here.


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