B. Banet & Y. Shan-ParkLight:A Framework to Monitor Nighttime Upward Radiance In National Parks

April 28, 2016 11:18 pm Published by

Title: ParkLight: A Framework to Monitor Nighttime Upward Radiance In and Around National Parks
By: Benjamin Banet, Yu Chuan Shan

Project Summary
Preserving night skies is important in ecosystem and wildlife conservation. This project aims to provide a framework to assess the spatial and ecological dimensions of light pollution in national parks and help the US National Park Service to make informed decisions on strategies to manage night lighting.

Main Issue
We will assess the spatial and temporal distribution of light pollution within US National Parks, identify parks exposed to highest level of lightning, as well as species that are most threatened by light pollution.

Learning Outcomes
This project helped us learn the adverse impact of artificial light, a usually ignored source of pollution, and the importance of lighting control in protecting the natural environment. During the data analyzing process we have also gained valuable hands-on experience in remote sensing and GIS technologies that can be very useful in a variety of applications.

Student Contributions
Ben: Downloaded dozens of tiles of VIIRS data to form a database. Extract values of nighttime radiance and related statistics within the extent of each park using ArcMap.
Shan: Check and repair GIS data of national parks boundaries Extract values of nighttime radiance and related statistics within the extent of each park using ArcMap.

Extensive outdoor lighting is one of the most visible changes humans have made to the global environment. During nighttime, artificial lighting can severely disturb the natural habits of wildlife. This problem has been a growing challenge for managers of protected lands as more areas become subjected to light pollution associated with expansion of modern infrastructure. The US National Park Service has recognized preservation of the night skies as an important purpose of the park system. Information about the levels of light pollution as it might affect wildlife, the human experience, and astronomical observations across all park units is currently lacking, notwithstanding excellent baseline surveys of many parks. Geospatial technologies have the potential to address these problems. Information about the surface of the Earth can be extracted from remotely sensed images, which can then be used in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to conduct spatial analysis and quantitatively study the visible light within a specific area. The purpose of this research project is to 1) describe and track the levels of light visible from space emitted from and around each of the 400+ units of the National Park system by analyzing radiance composite images from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day/Night Band (DNB), 2) classify parks by the similarities in their night lighting signature to suggest sets of parks that might be addressed by similar policies, and 3) develop lists of sensitive species associated with park units that might be affected by light pollution as a means to inform decision making about lighting strategies at different parks.

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