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Using weather radar to help minimize wind energy impacts on nocturnally migrating birds

Citation

Cohen, Emily B. et al. (2022), Using weather radar to help minimize wind energy impacts on nocturnally migrating birds, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.5dv41ns7m

Abstract

As wind energy rapidly expands worldwide, information to minimize impacts of this development on biodiversity is urgently needed. Here we demonstrate how data collected by weather radar networks can inform placement and operation of wind facilities to reduce collisions and minimize habitat-related impacts for nocturnally migrating birds. We found over a third of nocturnal migrants flew through altitudes within the rotor-swept zone surrounding the North American Great Lakes, a continentally important migration corridor. Migrating birds concentrated in terrestrial stopover habitats within 20-km from shorelines, a distance well beyond the current guidelines for construction of new land-based facilities, and their distributions varied seasonally and at local and regional scales, creating predictable opportunities to minimize impacts from wind energy development and operation. Networked radar data are available across the U.S. and other countries and broad application of this approach could provide information critical to bird-friendly expansion of this globally important energy source.