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Design and implementation of an illumination system to mimic skyglow at ecosystem level in a large-scale lake enclosure facility

Jechow, Andreas; Schreck, Günther; Kyba, Christopher C. M.; Berger, Stella A.; Bistarelli, Lukas Thuile; Bodenlos, Matthias; Gessner, Mark O.; Grossart, Hans-Peter; Kupprat, Franziska; Nejstgaard, Jens C.; Pansch, Andreas; Penske, Armin; Sachtleben, Michael; Shatwell, Tom; Singer, Gabriel A.; Stephan, Susanne; Walles, Tim J. W.; Wollrab, Sabine; Zielinska-Dabkowska, Karolina M.; Hölker, Franz

Light pollution is an environmental stressor of global extent that is growing exponentially in area and intensity. Artificial skyglow, a form of light pollution with large range, is hypothesized to have environmental impact at ecosystem level. However, testing the impact of skyglow at large scales and in a controlled fashion under in situ conditions has remained elusive so far. Here we present the first experimental setup to mimic skyglow at ecosystem level outdoors in an aquatic environment. Spatially diffuse and homogeneous surface illumination that is adjustable between 0.01 and 10 lx, resembling rural to urban skyglow levels, was achieved with white light-emitting diodes at a large-scale lake enclosure facility. The illumination system was enabled by optical modeling with Monte-Carlo raytracing and validated by measurements. Our method can be adapted to other outdoor and indoor skyglow experiments, urgently needed to understand the impact of skyglow on ecosystems.
Published in: Scientific Reports, 10.1038/s41598-021-02772-4, Springer Nature