Severe space weather affects migratory birds

New Delhi: Severe space weather events have been linked to a 9-17 per cent decline in the number of migratory birds in both spring and autumn, according to new research.

Space weather events such as solar flares and other energetic explosions cause periodic disruptions in Earth’s magnetic field, which migratory birds rely on for long-distance navigation.

Researchers at the University of Michigan said that the remaining birds that chose to migrate during such events experienced greater difficulty with navigation, especially in cloudy conditions in autumn.

(UM), US, said in its

The study used a 23-year dataset of bird migration in the Great Plains, a major

Migrant corridor for analysis. For their analysis, the researchers used images collected at 37 radar stations in the central flyway of the Great Plains, which

1,600 kilometers away from the American state of Texas

North Dakota. Flatrain was selected for the study to minimize influence from mountainous topography or marine coastlines. The researchers said in their study that radar images or scans detect groups of hundreds to thousands of migratory birds, using which the intensity of migration can be estimated and the direction of flight can be measured. In total, the dataset for analysis included 1.7 million radar scans from the fall and 1.4 million from the spring. Using statistical models, the team measured the effects of magnetic disturbances on bird migration.

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