Artificial skyglow, the fraction of artificial light at night that is emitted upwards from Earth and subsequently scattered back within the atmosphere, depends on atmospheric conditions but also on the ground albedo. One effect that has not gained much attention so far is the amplification of skyglow by snow, particularly in combination with clouds. Snow, however, has a very high albedo and can become important when the direct upward emission is reduced when using shielded luminaires. In this work, first results of skyglow amplification by fresh snow and clouds measured with all-sky photometry in a suburban area are presented. Amplification factors for the zenith luminance of 188 for snow and clouds in combination and 33 for snow alone were found at this site. The maximum zenith luminance of nearly 250 mcd/m2
measured with snow and clouds is a factor of 1000 higher than the commonly used clear sky reference of 0.25 mcd/m2
. Compared with our darkest zenith luminance of 0.07 mcd/m2
measured for overcast conditions in a very remote area, this leads to an overall amplification factor of ca. 3500. Horizontal illuminance measurements show values of up to 0.79 lx, exceeding maximum possible full-moon illuminance levels by more than a factor of two. Additional measurements near the Arctic Circle for clear and overcast conditions are presented and strategies for further studies are discussed. We propose the term “snowglow” to describe the amplification of skyglow by snow with and without clouds.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited