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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I035129/1
Title: Mapping Artificial Lightscapes: high resolution solutions to artificial light pollution in cities
Principal Investigator: Sadler, Professor J
Other Investigators:
Rogers, Professor CDF
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Geography, Earth & Env Sciences
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2011 Ends: 30 March 2013 Value (£): 99,092
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Urban & Land Management
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Construction Environment
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The proposal is a first attempt to secure high-resolution maps showing the intensity and spectral quality of artificial lighting for multiple urban areas anywhere in the world. We argue that they are an essential first step for understanding and addressing the engineering, social and biological impacts of artificial lighting and their related policy dimensions, which has hitherto been undermined by a lack of quality data at an appropriate spatial scale. Artificial lighting (AL) and urbanisation are linked, so much so that remotely sensed measures of AL are used as proxies for urban area, population, electric power consumption, density of built infrastructure and economic activity. Increases in AL have not only led to a wide range of benefits for society, but also an equally wide range of costs (e.g. changes in energy consumption and supply, infrastructure, human health, quality of life and ecological function and ecosystem services). The central platform for this research is quantification of the spatial variability in lighting at a city scale, both in terms of its intensity (illuminance and radiance) and spectral quality. This is needed because although accurate and comprehensive ground-based measures of artificial lighting and its impacts (e.g. safety) are available, they are not scalable. Conversely, larger scale satellite-based measures are typically of coarser resolution (1km), have poor sensitivity to low radiances, and lack multiple spectral bands. The demand for datasets at a spatial extent, resolution and quality relevant for managing urban landscapes has therefore not yet been met. Our research team's recent focus on urban futures (SUE 2 grant) identified AL as a local condition critical to the success of many of today's sustainability investments. We identified that changes in spectral range and intensity of lighting will either support or undermine initiatives aiming to improve road safety, energy efficiency and urban biodiversity. Further investigation revealed the lack of datasets to support a more quantitative sensitivity analysis and associated future proofing. We created a pilot project with Birmingham City Council, who were in the process of commissioning unrelated aerial surveys and were keen to support our research. The stunning results led to the first ever high-resolution quantification of the luminance and spectral quality of lighting within a City. It is likely data of this type have not been produced before due to technical, financial and logistical barriers, which we have demonstrated no longer exist. The aim of this project is to collect, process and analyse data from remotely sensed digital images to provide the first set of geo-referenced, radiance-calibrated, high-resolution city lightscape maps, for multiple cities in the UK. Data calibration, processing and analysis will follow an initial phase of collection. Throughout these phases the team will work across disciplines and sectors, with an international partner, lighting industry representatives and data collectors to ensure the outputs are targeted to end users. The deliverables from this project are (i) the first fully quantitative high resolution mapping of artificial lighting at a city scale for multiple urban centres in the UK, (ii) the first model of the relationship between urban structure and artificial lighting, and (iii) the first multi-city comparison of artificially lit landscapes. These have broad utility and are expected to generate considerable public interest. The AL issue is significant, as it impacts a very wide range of issues associated with the built environment that have become core topics of debate within academic and practitioner communities as well as within wider society. The deliverables from this project will provide an essential and timely dataset from which to better consider lighting issues at appropriates scales, depending upon the subject of interest (energy, health, ecology, etc.).
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Organisation Website: http://www.bham.ac.uk