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Special Issue "Light Pollution Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Data"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292). This special issue belongs to the section "Urban Remote Sensing".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 July 2021) | Viewed by 27231

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Martin Aubé
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Physics, Cégep de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC J1E 4K1, Canada
Interests: light pollution; remote sensing and modelling; lighting standards
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Light pollution has appeared in the list of environmental threats in recent years. Numerous studies have demonstrated the deleterious effects of artificial light at night. Its toxic effects on flora and fauna as well as the threat it represents for astronomical observations is well documented. More recently, studies have shown the potential threat to human health. In addition to these unwanted effects, light pollution is often linked to inefficient use of energy and therefore represents an unnecessary expense. Such an unnecessary expense has side effects on climate change. In fact, for a large part of the planet, the required energy is produced using fossil fuels.

To properly monitor the spatial and temporal evolution of this new type of pollution, it is essential to develop suitable remote sensing methods. Several approaches are currently being explored in this direction. These approaches include the use of available satellite data, the use of images taken by astronauts from the international space station, and the use of stratospheric balloons observation platforms along with airborne platforms such as drones or airplanes. At the same time, many techniques have been developed for ground-based remote sensing of light pollution. Ground detection networks are being implemented with a variety of approaches.

Among the main challenges to be met is the detection of the spectral properties of light pollution. Its spectral properties are of crucial importance with regard to their effects on living organisms. In this Special Edition, we want to bring together the most recent advances made in the remote sensing of light pollution using spaceborne, airborne, and ground-based devices. We expect such a collection of works to foster new developments in this relatively new field of research.

Prof. Martin Aubé
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Light pollution
  • Skyglow
  • Glare
  • Light trespass
  • Multiangular properties of lighting devices
  • Multispectral properties of lighting devices
  • Remote sensing
  • Detection networks
  • Detection platforms

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

Article
Empirical Modelling of Public Lighting Emission Functions
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(19), 3827; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13193827 - 24 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 798
Abstract
Study of light at night has increased in recent decades due to the recognition of its impact on the environment, potential health concerns, as well as both the financial and carbon cost of energy waste. The advent of more extensive and improved ground-based [...] Read more.
Study of light at night has increased in recent decades due to the recognition of its impact on the environment, potential health concerns, as well as both the financial and carbon cost of energy waste. The advent of more extensive and improved ground-based measurements together with quantifiable satellite data has revolutionised the field, and provided data to test improved theoretical models. However, “closing the loop” and finding a detailed connection between these measurements requires knowledge of the “city emission function”, the angular distribution of upwelling radiation with zenith distance. Simplified analytical functions have been superseded by more complex models involving statistical approximation of emission sources and obstructions and inversion techniques now permit the estimation of emission functions from the observed sky brightness measurements. In this paper, we present an efficient GIS-based method to model public lighting using real-world photometric data and high-resolution digital elevation maps of obstructions such as buildings and trees at a 1 m scale. We discuss the results of this work for a sample of Irish towns as well as a city area. We also compare our results to previous emission functions as well as to observed asymmetries in emission detected by satellites such as SUOMI VIIRS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Light Pollution Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Data)
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Article
Measurements and Modelling of Aritificial Sky Brightness: Combining Remote Sensing from Satellites and Ground-Based Observations
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(18), 3653; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13183653 - 13 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 830
Abstract
In recent decades, considerable research has been carried out both in measuring and modelling the brightness of the sky. Modelling is highly complex, as the properties of light emission (spatial and spectral distribution) are generally unknown, and the physical state of the atmosphere [...] Read more.
In recent decades, considerable research has been carried out both in measuring and modelling the brightness of the sky. Modelling is highly complex, as the properties of light emission (spatial and spectral distribution) are generally unknown, and the physical state of the atmosphere cannot be determined independently. The existing radiation transfer models lack the focus on light pollution and model only a narrow spectral range or do not consider realistic atmospheric circumstances. In this paper, we introduce a new Monte Carlo simulation for modelling light pollution, including the optical density of the atmosphere and multiple photon scattering, then we attempt to combine the available information of satellite and ground-based measurements to check the extent to which it is possible to verify our model. It is demonstrated that we need all the separate pieces of information to interpret the observations adequately. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Light Pollution Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Data)
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Article
First Estimation of Global Trends in Nocturnal Power Emissions Reveals Acceleration of Light Pollution
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(16), 3311; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13163311 - 21 Aug 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 4119
Abstract
The global spread of artificial light is eroding the natural night-time environment. The estimation of the pattern and rate of growth of light pollution on multi-decadal scales has nonetheless proven challenging. Here we show that the power of global satellite observable light emissions [...] Read more.
The global spread of artificial light is eroding the natural night-time environment. The estimation of the pattern and rate of growth of light pollution on multi-decadal scales has nonetheless proven challenging. Here we show that the power of global satellite observable light emissions increased from 1992 to 2017 by at least 49%. We estimate the hidden impact of the transition to solid-state light-emitting diode (LED) technology, which increases emissions at visible wavelengths undetectable to existing satellite sensors, suggesting that the true increase in radiance in the visible spectrum may be as high as globally 270% and 400% on specific regions. These dynamics vary by region, but there is limited evidence that advances in lighting technology have led to decreased emissions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Light Pollution Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Data)
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Article
Modeling the Spectral Properties of Obtrusive Light Incident on a Window: Application to Montréal, Canada
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(14), 2767; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13142767 - 14 Jul 2021
Viewed by 1933
Abstract
This paper describes the use of a new obtrusive light module of the Illumina v2 model to estimate the light that may enter bedroom windows. We used the following as input to the model: (1) the sources’ flux and spectrum derived from the [...] Read more.
This paper describes the use of a new obtrusive light module of the Illumina v2 model to estimate the light that may enter bedroom windows. We used the following as input to the model: (1) the sources’ flux and spectrum derived from the color images taken by astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS), (2) an association between source spectrum and angular emission, and (3) a per zone inventory of obstacles properties and lamp height. The model calculates the spectral irradiance incident to buildings’ windows taking into account the orientation of the street. By using the color information from an ISS image, we can classify pixels as a function of their spectra. With the same image, it is also possible to determine the upward photopic radiance for each pixel. Both serve as inputs to the model to calculate the spectral irradiance on any window. By having the spectral irradiance, it is possible to determine the Melatonin Suppression Index and the photopic irradiance on the window. Such information can later be used to perform epidemiological studies. The new methodology is applied to the city of Montréal in Canada for a set of houses’ locations. The computations are made for 2013 (pre-LED era). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Light Pollution Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Data)
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Article
A Case for a New Satellite Mission for Remote Sensing of Night Lights
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(12), 2294; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13122294 - 11 Jun 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1735
Abstract
The physiology and behavior of most life at or near the Earth’s surface has evolved over billions of years to be attuned with our planet’s natural light–dark cycle of day and night. However, over a relatively short time span, humans have disrupted this [...] Read more.
The physiology and behavior of most life at or near the Earth’s surface has evolved over billions of years to be attuned with our planet’s natural light–dark cycle of day and night. However, over a relatively short time span, humans have disrupted this natural cycle of illumination with the introduction and now widespread proliferation of artificial light at night (ALAN). Growing research in a broad range of fields, such as ecology, the environment, human health, public safety, economy, and society, increasingly shows that ALAN is taking a profound toll on our world. Much of our current understanding of light pollution comes from datasets generated by remote sensing, primarily from two missions, the Operational Linescan System (OLS) instrument of the now-declassified Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) of the U.S. Department of Defense and its follow-on platform, the Day-Night Band (DNB) of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on board the Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership satellite. Although they have both proved invaluable for ALAN research, sensing of nighttime lights was not the primary design objective for either the DMSP-OLS or VIIRS-DNB instruments; thus, they have some critical limitations. Being broadband sensors, both the DMSP-OLS and VIIRS-DNB instruments suffer from a lack of spectral information. Additionally, their spatial resolutions are too low for many ALAN research applications, though the VIIRS-DNB instrument is much improved over the DMSP-OLS in this regard, as well as in terms of dynamic range and quantization. Further, the very late local time of VIIRS-DNB observations potentially misses the true picture of ALAN. We reviewed both current literature and guiding advice from ALAN experts, aggregated from a diverse range of disciplines and Science Goals, to derive recommendations for a mission to expand knowledge of ALAN in areas that are not adequately addressed with currently existing orbital missions. We propose a stand-alone mission focused on understanding light pollution and its effects on our planet. Here we review the science cases and the subsequent mission recommendations for NITESat (Nighttime Imaging of Terrestrial Environments Satellite), a dedicated ALAN observing mission. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Light Pollution Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Data)
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Article
Evaluation of Light Pollution in Global Protected Areas from 1992 to 2018
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(9), 1849; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13091849 - 09 May 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1948
Abstract
Light pollution, a phenomenon in which artificial nighttime light (NTL) changes the form of brightness and darkness in natural areas such as protected areas (PAs), has become a global concern due to its threat to global biodiversity. With ongoing global urbanization and climate [...] Read more.
Light pollution, a phenomenon in which artificial nighttime light (NTL) changes the form of brightness and darkness in natural areas such as protected areas (PAs), has become a global concern due to its threat to global biodiversity. With ongoing global urbanization and climate change, the light pollution status in global PAs deserves attention for mitigation and adaptation. In this study, we developed a framework to evaluate the light pollution status in global PAs, using the global NTL time series data. First, we classified global PAs (30,624) into three pollution categories: non-polluted (5974), continuously polluted (8141), and discontinuously polluted (16,509), according to the time of occurrence of lit pixels in/around PAs from 1992 to 2018. Then, we explored the NTL intensity (e.g., digital numbers) and its trend in those polluted PAs and identified those hotspots of PAs at the global scale with consideration of global urbanization. Our study shows that global light pollution is mainly distributed within the range of 30°N and 60°N, including Europe, north America, and East Asia. Although the temporal trend of NTL intensity in global PAs is increasing, Japan and the United States of America (USA) have opposite trends due to the implementation of well-planned ecological conservation policies and declining population growth. For most polluted PAs, the lit pixels are close to their boundaries (i.e., less than 10 km), and the NTL in/around these lit areas has become stronger over the past decades. The identified hotspots of PAs (e.g., Europe, the USA, and East Asia) help support decisions on global biodiversity conservation, particularly with global urbanization and climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Light Pollution Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Data)
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Article
Effect of Street Lighting on the Urban and Rural Night-Time Radiance and the Brightness of the Night Sky
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(9), 1654; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13091654 - 23 Apr 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1095
Abstract
In April 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic and the tourism decrease in Cracow (Poland), the Road Authority of the City of Cracow, followed by the authorities of several neighbouring municipalities, decided to turn off street lighting at night. It is worth noting [...] Read more.
In April 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic and the tourism decrease in Cracow (Poland), the Road Authority of the City of Cracow, followed by the authorities of several neighbouring municipalities, decided to turn off street lighting at night. It is worth noting that this is the first time that street lighting has been turned off in such a large area on a longer time frame at this scale, including one of the most populated cities in Poland, which made it possible to make unique observations. During this period, with the help of small night-sky radiance meters (Sky Quality Meters (SQM)), many ground-based measurements were made, both within the city and in its vicinity. For this purpose, the existing light pollution monitoring stations in Cracow and neighbouring cities were used. It was found that after switching off street lighting, the zenith surface brightness of the cloudless sky decreased by 15–39%, and this value was proportional to the city’s population. The night-time light satellite data (VIIRS/DNB) on radiance from Cracow and neighbouring communes were also analysed, both their daily values as well as monthly and annual averages. It was found that in the case of a large city such as Cracow, turning off all street lighting reduces the amount of light energy radiated into the sky by about 50%, which is a relatively small decrease in radiance, while reducing the surface brightness of the night sky by about 40%, regardless of the state of the atmosphere. The effect of a significant decrease in radiance as a result of switching off street lighting was found in each of the analysed communes, especially the urbanised ones. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Light Pollution Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Data)
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Article
Evolution of Brightness and Color of the Night Sky in Madrid
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(8), 1511; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13081511 - 14 Apr 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2362
Abstract
Major schemes to replace other streetlight technologies with Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lamps are being undertaken across much of the world. This is predicted to have important consequences for nighttime sky brightness and color. Here, we report the results of a long-term study of [...] Read more.
Major schemes to replace other streetlight technologies with Light-Emitting Diode (LED) lamps are being undertaken across much of the world. This is predicted to have important consequences for nighttime sky brightness and color. Here, we report the results of a long-term study of these characteristics focused on the skies above Madrid. The sky brightness and color monitoring station at Universidad Complutense de Madrid (inside the city) collected Johnson B, V, and R sky brightness data, Sky Quality Meter (SQM), and Telescope Encoder Sky Sensor-WiFi (TESS-W) broadband photometry throughout the night, every night between 2010–2020. Our analysis includes a data filtering process that can be used with other similar sky brightness monitoring data. Major changes in sky brightness and color took place during 2015–2016, when a sizable fraction of the streetlamps in Madrid changed from High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) to LEDs. The sky brightness detected in the Johnson B band darkened by 14% from 2011 to 2015 and brightened by 32% from 2015 to 2019. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Light Pollution Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Data)
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Article
Artificial Light at Night Advances Spring Phenology in the United States
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(3), 399; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13030399 - 24 Jan 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2218
Abstract
Plant phenology is closely related to light availability as diurnal and seasonal cycles are essential environmental cues for organizing bio-ecological processes. The natural cycles of light, however, have been dramatically disrupted by artificial light at night (ALAN) due to recent urbanization. The influence [...] Read more.
Plant phenology is closely related to light availability as diurnal and seasonal cycles are essential environmental cues for organizing bio-ecological processes. The natural cycles of light, however, have been dramatically disrupted by artificial light at night (ALAN) due to recent urbanization. The influence on plant phenology of ALAN and its spatial variation remain largely unknown. By analyzing satellite data on ALAN intensity across the United States, here, we showed that ALAN tended to advance the start date of the growing season (SOS), although the overall response of SOS to ALAN was relatively weak compared with other potential factors (e.g., preseason temperature). The phenological impact of ALAN showed a spatially divergent pattern, whereby ALAN mainly advanced SOS at climatically moderate regions within the United States (e.g., Virginia), while its effect was insignificant or even reversed at very cold (e.g., Minnesota) and hot regions (e.g., Florida). Such a divergent pattern was mainly attributable to its high sensitivity to chilling insufficiency, where the advancing effect on SOS was only triggered on the premise that chilling days exceeded a certain threshold. Other mechanisms may also play a part, such as the interplay among chilling, forcing and photoperiod and the difference in species life strategies. Besides, urban areas and natural ecosystems were found to suffer from similar magnitudes of influence from ALAN, albeit with a much higher baseline ALAN intensity in urban areas. Our findings shed new light on the phenological impact of ALAN and its relation to space and other environmental cues, which is beneficial to a better understanding and projection of phenology changes under a warming and urbanizing future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Light Pollution Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Data)
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Article
Effects of the COVID-19 Lockdown on Urban Light Emissions: Ground and Satellite Comparison
Remote Sens. 2021, 13(2), 258; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13020258 - 13 Jan 2021
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 3771
Abstract
‘Lockdown’ periods in response to COVID-19 have provided a unique opportunity to study the impacts of economic activity on environmental pollution (e.g., NO2, aerosols, noise, light). The effects on NO2 and aerosols have been very noticeable and readily demonstrated, but [...] Read more.
‘Lockdown’ periods in response to COVID-19 have provided a unique opportunity to study the impacts of economic activity on environmental pollution (e.g., NO2, aerosols, noise, light). The effects on NO2 and aerosols have been very noticeable and readily demonstrated, but that on light pollution has proven challenging to determine. The main reason for this difficulty is that the primary source of nighttime satellite imagery of the earth is the SNPP-VIIRS/DNB instrument, which acquires data late at night after most human nocturnal activity has already occurred and much associated lighting has been turned off. Here, to analyze the effect of lockdown on urban light emissions, we use ground and satellite data for Granada, Spain, during the COVID-19 induced confinement of the city’s population from 14 March until 31 May 2020. We find a clear decrease in light pollution due both to a decrease in light emissions from the city and to a decrease in anthropogenic aerosol content in the atmosphere which resulted in less light being scattered. A clear correlation between the abundance of PM10 particles and sky brightness is observed, such that the more polluted the atmosphere the brighter the urban night sky. An empirical expression is determined that relates PM10 particle abundance and sky brightness at three different wavelength bands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Light Pollution Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Data)
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Article
Mapping the Melatonin Suppression, Star Light and Induced Photosynthesis Indices with the LANcube
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(23), 3954; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12233954 - 03 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1206
Abstract
Increased exposure to artificial light at night can affect human health including disruption of melatonin production and circadian rhythms which can extend to increased risks of hormonal cancers and other serious diseases. In addition, multiple negative impacts on fauna and flora are well [...] Read more.
Increased exposure to artificial light at night can affect human health including disruption of melatonin production and circadian rhythms which can extend to increased risks of hormonal cancers and other serious diseases. In addition, multiple negative impacts on fauna and flora are well documented, and it is a matter of fact that artificial light at night is a nuisance for ground-based astronomy. These impacts are frequently linked to the colour of the light or more specifically to its spectral content. Artificial light at night is often mapped by using spaceborne sensors, but most of them are panchromatic and thus insensitive to the colour. In this paper, we suggest a method that allows high-resolution mapping of the artificial light at night by using ground-based measurements with the LANcube system. The newly developed device separates the light detected in four bands (Red, Green, Blue and Clear) and provides this information for six faces of a cube. We found relationships between the LANcube’s colour ratios and (1) the Melatonin Suppression Index, (2) the StarLight Index and (3) the Induced Photosynthesis Index. We show how such relationships combined with data acquisition from a LANcube positioned on the top of a car can be used to produce spectral indices maps of a whole city in a few hours. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Light Pollution Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Data)
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Article
Evidence That Reduced Air and Road Traffic Decreased Artificial Night-Time Skyglow during COVID-19 Lockdown in Berlin, Germany
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(20), 3412; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12203412 - 17 Oct 2020
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 3053
Abstract
Artificial skyglow, the brightening of the night sky by artificial light at night that is scattered back to Earth within the atmosphere, is detrimental to astronomical observations and has an impact on ecosystems as a form of light pollution. In this work, we [...] Read more.
Artificial skyglow, the brightening of the night sky by artificial light at night that is scattered back to Earth within the atmosphere, is detrimental to astronomical observations and has an impact on ecosystems as a form of light pollution. In this work, we investigated the impact of the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on the urban skyglow of Berlin, Germany. We compared night sky brightness and correlated color temperature (CCT) measurements obtained with all-sky cameras during the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020 with data from March 2017. Under normal conditions, we expected an increase in night sky brightness (or skyglow, respectively) and CCT because of the transition to LED. This is supported by a measured CCT shift to slightly higher values and a time series analysis of night-time light satellite data showing an increase in artificial light emission in Berlin. However, contrary to this observation, we measured a decrease in artificial skyglow at zenith by 20% at the city center and by more than 50% at 58 km distance from the center during the lockdown. We assume that the main cause for the reduction of artificial skyglow originates from improved air quality due to less air and road traffic, which is supported by statistical data and satellite image analysis. To our knowledge, this is the first reported impact of COVID-19 on artificial skyglow and we conclude that air pollution should shift more into the focus of light pollution research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Light Pollution Monitoring Using Remote Sensing Data)
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