Putting Sensors on Oceangoing Birds Could Improve Weather Forecasting

Friday, 23 March

In the future, data sent from seabirds like streaked shearwaters could improve the accuracy of weather forecasting. Each year, streaked shearwaters visit the coasts and islands of East Asia to breed, returning from their winter journeys to tropical and subtropical waters. Because of their wide and varied range, much of which is far from land, Katsufumi Sato, National Geographic explorer and University of Tokyo behavioural ecologist, has made these oceangoing birds a part of his research team.

By outfitting the shearwaters with lightweight weather data recorders, Sato is able to capture information from points on the ocean, including temperature, wind speed, and currents, and compare it with results from other sources. He plans to add transmitters to the instruments, which could augment data coming in from ships, buoys, and satellites.

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