Journal of Environment Protection and Sustainable Development
Articles Information
Journal of Environment Protection and Sustainable Development, Vol.3, No.1, Jan. 2017, Pub. Date: Sep. 18, 2017
Tracking Light Pollution: A Longitudinal Study Utilizing Two Methods
Pages: 1-7 Views: 112 Downloads: 92
Authors
[01] Paulette Hebert, Department of Design, Housing and Merchandising, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, United States of America.
[02] Mahendran Balasubramanian, Department of Design, Housing and Merchandising, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, United States of America.
Abstract
The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) and other groups have identified light pollution as an important outdoor lighting issue. Besides interfering with astronomical observations, research has uncovered negative effects on wildlife migration, marine life, star gazing and human health. Related issues include circadian rhythm disruption, melatonin suppression and cancer growth. In response to these threats, several European governments and American state legislatures have enacted legislation to curb light pollution. The main purpose of this longitudinal research project, based on data collected for the international Globe at Night program, was to measure light pollution levels at the same 20 sites in a small town in a Southern Midwestern U.S. state over a four year period. The research team members included University students and community member volunteers, supervised by University faculty members. Researchers visited sites at nighttime during the same month and lunar cycle each year and documented sky quality. One of two GLOBE at Night-approved data collection methods were used at each site: (1) manually comparing views of the constellation, Orion, to standardized star charts to determine Naked Eye Limiting Magnitude (NELM) or (2) using a Sky Quality Meter, which assigned magnitudes per square arcsecond (MPSAS) when energized and pointed at the night sky. Conversions allowed for results from both methodologies to be aligned in reporting. These observations were submitted to the GLOBE at Night worldwide data set. The research found evidence of light pollution at some of the sites. We also found that the mean light pollution increased significantly over the period of four years. In particular, NELM values dropped from 3.5 in 2009 to a 2.45 in 2012, which also marked the highest pollution levels over the period. Based on the results, it is evident that despite a sparse population of less than 50,000 people, this town showed changes in light pollution similar to the global trend. This study makes a meaningful contribution to light pollution research since previously only very limited topical research had been conducted in this geographic area. Light pollution mitigation efforts, including legislation, had increased in this area over time, rendering this work relevant to policy makers.
Keywords
Light Pollution, NELM, Outdoor Lighting
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