The “Loss of the Night” project, funded by the EU COST programme, terminated its four years of activity at the end of October.
This article provides a brief summary of the project and of its relations to Italy.
Artificial light at night, if used in excess or inappropriately, will generate light pollution, which represents an issue for its negative effects on human health, fauna, flora, landscape, and energy consumption.
This issue can be controlled without compromising the need for illumination for security and life at night.
From this standpoint, guidelines and regulations have been established, for the reduction of light pollution. These have historically spawned from the experience of lighting engineers and astronomers (who were the first community, back in the early 20th century, to perceive the effect of light pollution on their observations). Much progress has been made in this field, especially in the past 10-15 years. However, the overall understanding of cause-effect relations between artificial light at night and the surrounding environment (and, thus, the definition of effective strategies to reduce light pollution) has yet to be attained.
The European Network
Loss of the Night started four years ago with the idea of connecting technicians and researcher interested in evaluating the effects of artificial light at night in an interdisciplinary context. This trend was already visible in several research initiatives, but was not until then structured in an international project.
Attivarti.org was invited to participate to the Loss of the Night Network since its first steps, given the experience we had developed in outreach, monitoring and citizen science with the della BuioMetria Partecipativa and CORDILIT projects.
Since February 2013 Attivarti.org operated as the primary representative of Italy in the LoNNe management committee, and was joined by the Italian National Research Council Institute of Biometeorology, base in Florence, in 2014.
The Loss of the Night network saw the participation of about 40 organisations from 18 countries, facilitating the exchange of knowledge across experts from numerous disciplines: a core of ecologists and physicists, together with chronobiologists, statisticians, sociologists, natural reserve managers, and lighting engineers, just to mention some of the expertise.
Among other outcomes, the Loss of the Night network helped to
- Create a literature database on the effects of artificial light at night
- Define guidelines on light at night
- Hold conference, primarily creating the “Artificial Light at Night” series, as well as workshops, courses and outreach events
- Organize scientific missions. The main one was a four-year intercomparison campaign, allowing the joint testing of various sensors and technologis for night sky quality monitoring. The 2015 edition of the campaign was held in Tuscany, with measurements taken in the Farma Valley and Sesto Fiorentino.
Italy and LoNNe
The participation in the Loss of the Night helped Attivarti.org to establish new contacts also at the national level.
In the research arena, in addition to the above mentioned collaboration with the Institute of Biometeorology (which installed some night sky brightness sensors and started observations on the effects of nocturnal lighting on trees in Florence), at the end of 2015 we started a collaboration with the Department of Biology and the University of Pisa, with studied on the effect of light pollution on marine ecology. We also had initial contacts with researchers in Trento, Bologna, Venice, and Milano, and had a chance to meet young Italian researchers currently working abroad.
Concerning outreach, Attivarti.org hosted some interns from the Scuola Superiore di Mediazione Linguistica in Pisa, for the translation of interviews and other material in English and Spanish.
We gave lectures in Portugal and Catalunya to present the issue of artificial light at night and our experiences in the BuioMetria Partecipativa project in architecture and design schools, and also presented our work from Italy at the ALAN conferences in Leicester, UK, and Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and at the Balkan Lighting conference in Athens, Greece.
Finally, we launched a series of short interviews, pubblished in Italian and English, to give voice to lesser known subjects (young researchers, civil servants, activists) who are committed in the study and the mitigation of light pollution.
During these four years, we have not interrupted our activities on BuioMetria Partecipativa, with data collection and events in various locations in Italy, and with our contribution to the CORDILIT monitoring network.
With the formal part of the Loss of the Night project now over (thanking once more the coordinators for inviting us back in 2012), we maintain the relationships developed during the project and the interest in continuing our activities of protection and promotion of the night sky. Our primary area of interest is Southern Tuscany, where the BuioMetria Partecipativa project started in 2008, but we are always interested to establish connections with other regions in Italy and the rest of the globe.
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Nightscape: San Galgano Abbey (Siena), Federico Giussani