Many species rely on natural light sources to set activity times for accomplishing activities like navigation and reproduction. Throughout the world, more than one billion people live within a hundred kilometers of a coastline. This causes many coastline marine ecosystems to be exposed to nighttime artificial light.
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(Figure 1, Davies et al. 2014). This addition of light alters the natural cycle of many species. The release of the hormone, melatonin, can be disrupted (Rodriguez et al. 2018). This hormone controls the circadian rhythm. In 2010, 354,760 kilometers of the world’s coastlines were exposed to nightly artificial light pollution with Europe having the highest amount of coastline affected by light pollution (Davies et al. 2014).
Glare, skyglow, light trespass, and clutter make up light pollution. Glare is the undue brightness of a light source. Over-illumination is the use of too much light. Light clutter is having too many lights in a single location. Light trespass is the presence of light in unwanted areas. Skyglow is the increase in the brightness of the sky due to the scattering of light by water, dust and atmospheric gas molecules (Gaston et al. 2012). The sources of light pollution can be divided into two groups: temporary sources and permanent sources. Temporary sources include lights from shipping and light fisheries. Offshore oil platforms and land-based developments are examples of permanent sources. Light pollution can cause disorientation in many species that use natural light cues to navigate like sea turtle hatchlings. Bird strikes can also occur on artificially lit vessels at sea (Figure 3, Davies et al. 2014). The broadening spectrum of artificial light increases the opportunities for predators to find prey. For example, harbor seals have been spotted hunting salmon in illuminated areas (Depledge et al. 2012).
The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) currently does not recognize light pollution as a pollutant. There are efforts to quantify the extent of the threat, develop a sound knowledge base and design and implement protective measures. When mapping and modelling light pollution, the vertical and horizontal variability need to be taken into consideration. For example, turbidity affects the intensity of light. The overall impacts of light pollution can be reduced. The intensity and spectrum of artificial light can be controlled by using narrow band optical filters and LEDs. Long term databases can quantify light pollution and monitor the effectiveness of reduction measures. Since 1992, The U.S. Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Operational Linescan System has been collecting measurements of artificial light (Kamrowski et al. 2012).
The International Dark-Sky Association’s Dark Sky Parks and the United Kingdom’s Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Dark Sky Discovery Sites are examples of national and international programs that focus on the importance of dark skies. By creating marine dark sky parks the effects of light pollution can be limited and the benefits to society,
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