Research on “skyglow” with a new web application

07.12.2015: Dr. Christopher Kyba, GFZ section Remote Sensing, studies light pollution (skyglow) – an environmental pollution that is to date largely unexplored. It describes the phenomenon that the night is getting brighter by artificial light. Citizen science and a new web application shall help to better understand this phenomenon.

Within the project „myskyatnight“ by GFZ and Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin, citizen scientists can measure skyglow at any place on Earth. A new web-based application allows for any interested person to visualize and analyze the collected data. Christopher Kyba developed the application together with the Berlin-based company Interactive Scape. Data from „Loss of the night“ and two other citizen science projects on light pollution are made available. „We give the data into the hands of citizens and are looking forward to see what they make of it.“, says Kyba.

The effect of „skyglow“ on ecosystems is largely unknown. Help from citizen scientists is urgently needed. This research cannot be done with satellites, because they measure the light emitted upward, not the light experienced on the ground by humans and other living creatures. A further complication is that the satellites are not sensitive to the blue part of the visible spectrum and thereby cannot measure the light from LEDs. With the help from citizen scientists it will be possible to examine how skyglow is changing globally in time. So far thousands of measurements from 111 countries were made. The project „Myskyatnight“ was funded by the European Commission within the MYGEOSS programme. The website became available on 3 December 2015.