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Power Science

Radar Could Save Bats From Wind Turbines 116

Posted by kdawson
from the holy-pressure-drop dept.
mknewman sends in an MSNBC piece on a promising way to keep bats from straying into wind farms — by using radar. "Bats use sonar to navigate and hunt. Many have been killed by wind turbines, however, which their sonar doesn't seem to recognize as a danger. Surprisingly, radar signals could help keep bats away from wind turbines, scientists have now discovered. ...some researchers have raised concerns that wind turbines inadvertently kill bats and other flying creatures. ... The bats might not be killed by the wind turbine blades directly, but instead by the sudden drop in air pressure the swinging rotors induce... The researchers discovered that radar helped keep bats away, reducing bat activity by 30 to 40 percent. The radar did not keep insects away, which suggests that however the radar works as a deterrent, it does so by influencing the bats directly and not just their food. Radar signals can lead to small but rapid spikes of heat in the head that generate sound waves, which in turn stimulate the ear. A bat's hearing is much more sensitive than ours. It may be so sensitive that even a tiny amount of sound caused by electromagnetic radiation is enough to drive them out."
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Radar Could Save Bats From Wind Turbines

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @02:54AM (#28779131)

    Tell that to the 30 - 40% left alive! I'm sure they don't mind this solution.

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @04:04AM (#28779409)
    For a bat to learn that something is dangerous it must encounter the danger. The problem is the only way a bat would know a wind turbine is dangerous is by dying. I can see it now. The bat thinks "that weird noise is connected to that dangerous place. I guess I should avoid it in the future" as it plummets to the ground due to burst lungs. Even if one bat could learn the danger and survive, every other bat would have to go through the same process. When we use distinctive noises to ward off animals we use their already known distress calls. There is no learning on the part of the animal.
  • Re:More geeky (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrphoton (1349555) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @06:46AM (#28779955)
    may be the radar is cooking the bats and that is why he is finding less of them!
  • by Yewbert (708667) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @08:44AM (#28780859)

    Right enough in principle, but my first thought in response is, "yeah, like deer have evolved the behavior of not running out in front of cars." Compared to the actual number of bats, the evolutionary pressure exerted on tiny localized populations of them by not-very-numerous wind turbines is probably negligible.

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