Economic growth in the developing world is boosting livelihoods, but it is also disturbing plant and animal life that evolved with a daily cycle of light and darkness.

Nighttime on Earth is getting brighter.

The rise of developing economies in Africa, Latin America, and Asia isn’t just raising global greenhouse gases emissions and making the planet warmer. It’s also spreading nighttime light to regions of the planet that didn’t have it before, parting the global curtain of night.

“We’re losing more and more of the night on a planetary scale,” Kip Hodges, professor of earth and space exploration at Arizona State University and deputy editor of the journal Science Advances, told Seeker.

The impact won’t just be felt by poets and stargazers.

The dangers, Hodges said, include the “well-established negative effects of light pollution on human health, ecosystems, and astronomical research.”

According to a new paper published in Science Advances, the artificially lit surface of Earth at night increased in radiance and extent by about 2 per cent annually from 2012 to 2016. To make that measurement, Hodges and his team used first-ever calibrated satellite radiometer designed especially for nighttime lights. A radiometer is any device that measures electromagnetic radiation.

An influx of new light can wreak havoc on natural systems that have evolved to live partly in darkness, the authors said.

A big example: nocturnal animals, including some 30 percent of vertebrates and 60 percent of invertebrates.

Indeed, changing night patterns threaten biodiversity, migration, and reproduction habits for a wide range of animals from insects to fish and birds and have an impact on plants and microorganisms, too.


Read more: https://www.seeker.com/earth/light-pollution-poses-a-growing-threat-to-human-health-and-biodiversity

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