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Space Weather: Severe space weather disrupts bird migration, a study claims

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Recent research suggests that severe space weather events, such as solar flares, have a detrimental impact on the navigational abilities of birds during their long migrations, according to space.com.This study utilized data from 37 NEXRAD Doppler weather radar stations capable of detecting groups of migrating birds as well as information collected from ground-based magnetometers.The dataset was used to investigate bird migrations across the U.S. Great Plains over a span of 23 years.Space.com suggested that the study’s findings revealed a decline in the population of migrating birds in the U.S. Great Plains region, ranging from 9 to 17 percent, during severe space weather events.According to space.com, the researchers observed more occurrences of birds losing their intended migration routes, a phenomenon recognized as “migratory bird vagrancy.”Daniel Welling, a space scientist said the biggest challenge “was trying to distill such a large dataset into a geomagnetic disturbance index for each radar site.”He further added “There was a lot of heavy lifting in terms of assessing data quality and validating our final data product to ensure that it was appropriate for this study.”Eric Gulson-Castillo, a doctoral student, who served as lead author on a study was quoted as saying “Our findings highlight how animal decisions are dependent on environmental conditions including those that we as humans cannot perceive, such as geomagnetic disturbances — and that these behaviors influence population-level patterns of animal movement.”
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