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Mapping Lightscapes: Spatial Patterning of Artificial Lighting in an Urban Landscape

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • James Hale
  • Gemma Davies
  • Alison Fairbrass
  • Matthews Thomas
  • Christopher D.F. Rogers
  • Jon P. Sadler
Article numbere61460
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>6/05/2013
<mark>Journal</mark>PLoS ONE
Issue number5
Number of pages9
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Artificial lighting is strongly associated with urbanisation and is increasing in its extent, brightness and spectral range. Changes in urban lighting have both positive and negative effects on city performance, yet little is known about how its character and magnitude vary across the urban landscape. A major barrier to related research, planning and governance has been the lack of lighting data at the city extent, particularly at a fine spatial resolution. Our aims were therefore to capture such data using aerial night photography and to undertake a case study of urban lighting. We present the finest scale multi-spectral lighting dataset available for an entire city and explore how lighting metrics vary with built density and land-use. We found positive relationships between artificial lighting indicators and built density at coarse spatial scales, whilst at a local level lighting varied with land-use. Manufacturing and housing are the primary land-use zones responsible for the city’s brightly lit areas, yet manufacturing sites are relatively rare within the city. Our data suggests that efforts to address light pollution should broaden their focus from residential street lighting to include security lighting within manufacturing areas.

Bibliographic note

Copyright: © 2013 Hale et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.