A large amount of the datasets provided by scientific satellites is available for free, but they aren’t accessible for the general public. A new web application will facilitate access to satellite imagery of Earth. Radiance Light Trends allows users to inspect a specific region or site and observe how Earth’s light emissions changed in the last decades, with the earliest data being collected in 1992.
Unlike the technology shown in Hollywood movies, satellites will usually convey a high amount of data. If an average person wanted to check out a specific area at least one day of effort would have been needed. You have to download the data and know how to use a specialized geographic information system which has to be used to be able to analyze a specific area.
The new app simplifies the task considerably since the data will be provided by the app in less than a minute, while also offering the option to create a customizable chart. Users can ask the app to calculate how light pollution increased over the years. In recent years, the luminosity has risen exponentially in select regions from all over the world.
Radiance Light Trends web-based app showcases Earth’s light emissions
A large number of factors influences the changes in Earth’s light emissions. In old added airports flooded the surrounding area with light. The situation has changed as many airports replaced the external lights with alternatives which are more economical and also emit a lower amount of light. Zones that used to be dark will appear to leak light as new greenhouses are built. In Moscow, a huge greenhouse has illuminated a large area which used to be completely dark.
The primary data used by the app comes from two satellites which were used by a large number of U.S. government agencies for several decades. Another site of data comes from the Operational Linescan System of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. The third and final set is provided by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite Instrument.
The project can be easily accessed here.
Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News. She covers politics and the economy.