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Study: what seabirds can tell us about the tide –

When the UK Royal Bird Protection Society (RSPB) decided to label razorbillus, their goal was to track their behavior and movements on North Wales. Content data suggests that at night, these seabirds spent a lot of time at idle in the sea. "We saw it as an opportunity to re-use data and to check if birds could flood a tidal stream," says Matt Coupers, an ocean-lag graduate from Bangor University, Wales. It turns out they were, according to the new Cooper study, which shows seabirds to measure ocean currents. The results are published today in the journal of the European Union of Science Ocean Science.

Using seawater to tell us about the tide could be particularly useful for the marine renewable energy industry. In order to create tidal energy, there is a need for detailed knowledge of the current speed. Scientists and engineers traditionally measure tides using radars or placing anchors and buoys with scientific instruments. However, these research methods are complicated and costly. If labeled seabirds could provide data on large areas, they could help identify sites that are good tidal energy sources.

Cooper executives at Bangor University were aware of his interest in tidal energy and data gathering, so they suggested that he study the data on seabirds collected by the RSPB to see if it could get information about the tide. A few years earlier, from 2011 to 2014, aRSPB had installed a GPS on Puffin Island, North Wales to explore their prevalence and breeding and feeding behavior. These black and white seabirds, like puffins and guillemots, only get to the shore to make the breed. They spend most of their time at sea while eating or relaxing on the ocean surface.

Data collected when birds were seated at the end of the hours of the sea was interesting in terms of bird behavior, but researchers at Bangor University saw yet another potential use. "We used data that was rejected from the original study and was used to test the hypothesis in another field of research," Cooper says. "To our knowledge, this document is the first to describe the use of labeled seabirds for the measurement of any type of stream," the researchers write in their Ocean Science study.

Non-invasiveGPStags on razorbills recorded their status every 100 seconds. With a set of poses and a certain amount of time between each of them, scientists could calculate the speed and direction of bird movement. After the sunset birds spent a long time in peace on the sea surface, passively drifting with current. "[At these times] their variable position would reflect the movement of water on the surface of the ocean, "explains Cooper.

At speeds greater than 1 meter per second, Average Tidal Flows in the Irish Sea Area, researchers focused on it are very fast, faster than razorbill can be accused, but much slower than the speed at which birds reach by swimming. This means that the team could filter the time when the birds flew. In addition, the filtered data showed that when the birds were drifting, the direction of movement changed in low and rapid weather conditions, when the flow flow is expected to change from flow to flow and vice versa. Therefore, the team could be sure that they follow the speed and direction of the sea stream rather than the bird's independent movements.

The use of seabirds to detect tidal currents has limitations. "We must remember that these birds behave naturally and we can not determine where they are going," says Cooper. But Ocean Science the study shows that this inexpensive method is essential to provide decisive information on the large area of ​​the tide. By exploring other labeled seabirds, we could learn more about our oceans, especially in outermost regions where it is difficult to collect oceanographic data.

Cooper also hopes that this method can reduce energy costs for renewable energy, which is an obstacle to the development of this much-needed industry. "


European Earth Sciences Union. .

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