Biologically important artificial light at night on the seafloor

Thomas W. Davies, David McKee, James Fishwick, Svenja Tidau, Tim Smyth

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Abstract

Accelerating coastal development is increasing the exposure of marine ecosystems to nighttime light pollution, but is anthropogenic light reaching the seafloor in sufficient quantities to have ecological impacts? Using a combination of mapping, and radiative transfer modelling utilising in situ measurements of optical seawater properties, we quantified artificial light exposure at the sea surface, beneath the sea surface, and at the sea floor of an urbanised temperate estuary bordered by an LED lit city. Up to 76% of the three-dimensional seafloor area was exposed to biologically important light pollution. Exposure to green wavelengths was highest, while exposure to red wavelengths was nominal. We conclude that light pollution from coastal cities is likely having deleterious impacts on seafloor ecosystems which provide vital ecosystem services. A comprehensive understanding of these impacts is urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12545
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • marine ecosystems
  • seafloor light
  • light pollution
  • seafloor ecosystem

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