While it might not be terribly surprising, the numbers may be as holiday celebrations light up certain areas considerably.
NASA has been using its Suomi NPP satellite in order to look at light use over the world’s many cultural festival. In addition to the satellite’s observations, scientists have been using its VIIRS instrument, which analyses patterns of light on a daily basis to show that the world clearly lights up during both Christmas and Ramadan.
The Suomi National Polar Orbiting Partnership satellite, developed and owned by the US space agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), uses infrared cameras to detect light levels at night around the world.
NASA scientist explains
Miguel Roman, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center recently said from the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting in San Francisco, “For the first time, we’ve been able to examine changes in lighting at the country, city and neighborhood scales.”
“We were really surprised to see a vibrant increase in activity during the holidays, particularly in the suburbs [of major US cities] where there are single-family homes with a lot of year space to put in lights,” continued Roman.
Depending on the location, NASA noticed increases of up to 50% during the holiday period in the United States between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Somewhat surprisingly, cities often saw less light compared to the suburbs of the same cities as people spend more time with their families.
Change not limited to Christmas
“By looking at the lights we can see changes in human behavior throughout the seasons, throughout the days and then understand the norms that are driving the decisions behind energy,” says Roman.
Outside of the United States, some Middle East cities saw their light use and illumination during Ramadan increase by nearly 100%.
“Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, and this shifts their activity to later and later in the day. People eat later, the markets stay open later, people go to work later, said Eleanor Stokes of Yale University in conversations with the BBC.