Birds can predict atmospheric turbulence and likely help the aviation industry

Bird flight can also predict atmospheric turbulence, according to results presented in a new study, which suggests that flying animals like pigeons can adapt to such aerial disturbances.

The study has potential implications for the future of the aviation industry, with a focus on how planes can handle turbulence.

flight of birds


A new article published in the peer-reviewed journal Royal Society Interface Journal November 9 explored the relationship between bird flight and air turbulence, which highlights the necessary response of all animals operating in the atmospheric boundary layer.

Prior to the article, the researchers involved in the study acknowledged that little is known about how flying animals adapt to air turbulence.

The limited knowledge on the subject comes from the fact that the evaluation of these animals and turbulence at fine scales is extremely difficult, explain the authors of the study.

With this, the authors found that some birds not only adapt to atmospheric turbulence, but can also predict these air disturbances.

The new research opens up the possibility of using bird-borne sensors to measure and calculate free-flow turbulence in nature, outside of man-made or man-made environments.

Moreover, the agility and versatility of birds on turbulence could also help us understand the aerial mechanisms of flying animals and its application to aircraft and the aviation industry as a whole.

The method is similar to the onboard sensors that scientists use to measure temperature and salinity under the ice.

Read also : NASA launches rockets into the Aurora Borealis to study atmospheric turbulence

Bird-borne sensors

The research team made up of researchers from Swansea University, University of Leeds, Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior and the University of Konstanz collaborated to develop a new approach by flying a small plane along and near the route of the pigeons when they return. at their loft, which allowed them to measure turbulence levels during each trip.

Additionally, the team used acceleration data, barometric pressure, and Global Positioning System (GPS) attached to the birds.

These tools allowed the team to determine whether small-scale changes in altitude and flight motion can override the strength of turbulence, by comparing the turbulence measured by the anemometer attached to the aircraft.

Dr Emmanouil Lempidakis, the study’s lead researcher, said that even though birds choose when and where to fly, the method can still provide an understanding of “small-scale environmental conditions” without sacrificing other approaches and allowing for perspective. different to turbulence, as quoted by

What is atmospheric turbulence?

The atmospheric boundary layer, which was mentioned in the new study, extends from the Earth’s surface between 1 and 2 kilometers above the ground; the layer is very turbulent and filled with random swirling motions, according to Boston University.

Understanding the dynamics of atmospheric turbulence can also play an important role in many disciplines, including meteorology and air quality monitoring.

Turbulence is one of the most unexpected weather phenomena that are important to pilots, since said event involves irregular motion resulting from eddies and vertical currents, National Weather Service (NWS).

Related article: Climate change may affect how planes fly due to turbulence

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