Croatian Students Analyze Effects of City Lights with Five Years of GLOBE at Night Data
Since 2006, GLOBE has invited students around the world to take part in GLOBE at Night, a global campaign to measure night sky brightness. Participants choose a clear night during the two week campaign each year to go outside and observe the constellation Orion between 8 and 10pm local time, match the appearance of their sky with one of seven GLOBE Magnitude Charts, and enter their observations into the GLOBE at Night website. From this international-scale comparison, students learn about the effects of light pollution, defined as any unnecessary, useless emission of light in space outside the zone that needs to be illuminated. Often, light pollution occurs due to the use of bad lighting fixtures and incorrectly set lighting.
Secondary school Mate Blažine in Labin, Croatia, has been a faithful participant in the GLOBE at Night campaign. Participating all five years, 360 students from Mate Blažine observed their sky at night and 50 students reported data! GLOBE Teacher Mira Hrvatin explains, "The goal of our project was to determine the situation in our area and to encourage local governments to start thinking about this problem." The information the school collected indicates that light pollution is a serious matter and can have a negative impact on both human and animal ecosystems. Incorrectly placed lighting wastes energy unnecessarily and also interferes with traffic safety. Light emitted from incorrectly placed sources has the potential to impede driver vision, causing accidents, sometimes critical or even fatal.
Artificial nocturnal lighting also gives animals the impression of daytime and interferes with daily activities such as reproduction, feeding, and migration. Students at Mate Blažine have learned that the consequences of light pollution have the potential for such severity that the population of a species could be reduced or even become extinct. Alberta, a GLOBE at Night student participant expressed concern for these possibilities, stating "We hope our work pays off by encouraging people to think. So little is necessary to save nature, and she is going to be grateful."
Prof. Čedomir Ružić, Principal of Mate Blažine is pleased with the progression of this project and the amount of local attention it has received. "The significance of this research was recognized by representatives of cultural communities Istrian-Venetian "Istria" from Trieste and representatives of the Association of Local Democracy Agencies (ALDA) from Brtonigla, who gave an award to the students at a reception hosted by the Mayor of Labin." GLOBE Teacher Mira Hrvatin added, "We are proud of the successful dissemination of our research. The light pollution problem in our town has begun to change for the better."
Changes are not only seen at a local level, but on a national scale as well. In October 2007, a Law on Protection Against Light Pollution was passed by the Croatian Parliament and is detailed as follows:
(1) Light pollution is the change of the level of natural light in night conditions resulting from the introduction of light produced by human activity.
(2) Protection against light pollution includes measures for protection against unnecessary, useless or harmful light emissions inside and outside the zone which needs to be illuminated and measures for the protection of the night sky from excessive lighting.
(3) Protection against light pollution shall be established on the basis of health, biological, economic, cultural, legal, safety, astronomical and other standards.
Principal Ružić added, "I am proud that our school is part of the GLOBE Program. For many years our students have achieved remarkable results in the GLOBE Program, especially in student research projects. On our school website you can find many of our students' projects."
Light pollution is one environmental problem we can work together to avoid. Hats off to Secondary school Mate Blažine for setting the stage for eliminating excess light and rediscovering the night sky across the world.
Watch the GLOBE website for news about the next GLOBE at Night in 2011!
View additional information about GLOBE at Night and Light Pollution:
2 November 2010