EGU24-4091, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Artificial light at night reveals hotspots and rapid development of industrial activity in the Arctic

Cengiz Akandil1, Elena Plekhanova1, Nils Rietze1, Jacqueline Oehri1, Miguel O. Roman2, Zhuosen Wang3, Volker Radeloff4, and Gabriela Schaepman-Strub1
Cengiz Akandil et al.
  • 1University of Zurich, Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2Leidos Civil Group, Reston, USA
  • 3University of Maryland College Park, Terrestrial Information Systems Laboratory, NASA, Greenbelt, USA
  • 4University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Forest & Wildlife Ecology, Madison, USA

Climate warming enables easier access and operation in the Arctic, fostering industrial and urban development. However, there is no comprehensive pan-Arctic overview of industrial and urban development, which is crucial for the planning of sustainable development of the region. In this study, we utilize satellite derived artificial light at night (ALAN) data to quantify the hotspots and the development of human activity across the Arctic from 1992 – 2013. We find that out of 16.4 million km2 analyzed a total area of 839,710 km2 (5.14%) is lit by human activity with an annual increase of 4.8%. The European Arctic and the oil and gas extraction regions in Russia and Alaska are hotspots of ALAN with up to a third of the land area lit, while the Canadian Arctic remains dark to a large extent. On average, only 15% of lit area in the Arctic contains human settlement, indicating that artificial light is largely attributable to industrial human activity. With this study, we provide a new, standardized approach to spatially assess human industrial activity across the Arctic, independent from economic data. Our results provide a crucial baseline for sustainable development and conservation planning across the highly vulnerable Arctic region.


How to cite: Akandil, C., Plekhanova, E., Rietze, N., Oehri, J., Roman, M. O., Wang, Z., Radeloff, V., and Schaepman-Strub, G.: Artificial light at night reveals hotspots and rapid development of industrial activity in the Arctic, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-4091,, 2024.