Turn Off the Lights

Arctic zone
Photo by Zdeněk Macháček

Animals in the North suffer from an extensive amount of artificial light. As the Polar nights will return in a few months, the problem once again becomes relevant.

During winter in the North, the time of daylight decreases to the point when there’s no sunlight at all. That is why a major part of Arctic animals lead a night lifestyle.

Experts estimate that 30% of Arctic vertebrates and 60% of invertebrates lead a night lifestyle and their hunting, reproduction and sleeping cycles depend on the amount of surrounding light. 

Artificial light interrupts natural rhythms and threatens the stability of ecosystems. 

Experts say that most lamps present in the Arctic zone of Russia emit light with a bright blue color in its spectrum, with a wavelength circa 450 nm. It harms the eyesight and the biological clock of night animals which in turn changes their usual behaviour. It is also said that blue color in the spectrum affects animals even more than people.

The proposed solution for the problem is to use lamps and bulbs which emit warm white light imitating the spectrum of an incandescent light bulb.

The relevance of the problem is enhanced by the fact that artificial illumination is not used solely in human settlements in the Arctic zone, but also in protected areas such as national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves, which are popular among tourists.

The Arctic zone of Russia includes almost 150 of such protected natural areas and there's always a need to keep the environment intact. A careful approach to illumination would become a great step for preserving nature and would make Northern ecosystems more stable and safe for animals' traditional way of life.

There's already some successful experience in the field as such white lamps are used on eco-trails on the mountain Mashuk near Pyatigorsk. This experience can also be implemented in the Arctic region.