Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Power

Power Cables' UV Flashes Apparently Frighten Animals 183

Posted by timothy
from the what-can-you-see? dept.
Rambo Tribble writes "Ultraviolet light flashes, or "corona", may be scaring animals and altering behavior. An international scientific team, first studying behavioral anomalies in reindeer near power lines, have found that sporadic flashes of UV from the lines are probably responsible. As most mammals can see into the UV spectrum, this has broad implications for the disruption of animal behavior. From the BBC article: "Since, as the researchers added, coronas 'happen on all power lines everywhere,' the avoidance of the flashes could be having a global impact on wildlife.""
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Power Cables' UV Flashes Apparently Frighten Animals

Comments Filter:
  • by Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @11:13AM (#46473499) Homepage
    After reading the article this may prove to be a solution to the numerous deer car collisions. I might try this given the number of deer in my area.
    • The issue is that corona discharges are more prevalent on high voltage transmission lines. They require large clearances and rights-of-way - not ideal to run 220 kV up and down every road in the nation!
      • I was thinking more along the lines of having some flashing UV LEDs that flash every 10 or so seconds. Put a couple in the grill and let them flash away.
        • You mean the same UV LEDs that burnout retinas if you look into them, those LEDs?

          • You mean the same UV LEDs that burnout retinas if you look into them, those LEDs?

            lol, standing like deer in the headlights would take on a whole new meaning, as they stumble into every tree in the area after you pass by.

            That said, I would think visible light would trump UV.

      • by Wycliffe (116160)

        You wouldn't need to run high voltage up and down every road to acheive the same effect.
        A small light like wreckers or volunteer fire/police use except in the UV spectrum would
        probably do the trick. Would also want to check and make sure it was legal first so you
        don't get charged with "impersonating a cop" but if it was restricted to the UV spectrum
        you should be fine.

    • by kamapuaa (555446)

      One deer acclimate they won't care any more. Similarly, I'm sure back in the past the loud noises would scare deer away, the way automobiles drove horses into a frenzy a century ago.

      • by Wycliffe (116160)

        One deer acclimate they won't care any more.

        If they acclimate. My dog has been around fire all her life and is still scared to death of
        it even at a safe distance. Wild animals don't necessarily acclimate to everything
        especially if it is something (like a car) that they know causes harm. It's not like
        roads provide food. On a non-busy road (which is where most deer accidents occur),
        a deer would be glad to avoid you if they had a reliable early warnings.

    • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @11:39AM (#46473745)
      Here is what the corona discharges look like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      Pretty amazing, really.
      • by imikem (767509)

        I would swear I have seen these in the past. Maybe not now as I get older and eyes get lousier though.

      • Here is what the corona discharges look like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

        Pretty amazing, really.

        Seeing it is different that what I thought, I figured it would be at the insulators but the discharges are everywhere; mentioned in the video a cause was bird droppings.

    • This is great news! The UV flashes naturally warn the reindeer so that they won't land on the power lines.
  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @11:13AM (#46473505)
    Does everything humans do that affects animal behavior need to be altered or fixed? In this case the "impact" is simply that the animals stay away from the power lines. There are countless naturally-occurring things in nature that have similar kinds of "impact".
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2014 @11:26AM (#46473603)

      What if those power lines cross a major migration route? Or block a nesting ground or food source? It's nothing personal, but I hate when people just say, "Well it's probably not a big deal." To us it may not seem like it, but to everything else it might be. We are the single most invasive species on the planet. That will eventually come back to haunt us.

      • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @11:45AM (#46473801)
        Fair enough, but animals (like humans) are supremely adaptable. So the question remains - why is it a big deal if animal behavior is altered?

        And calling humans an invasive species discounts our role in nature. We have survived through the evolution of our intelligence. The application of that intelligence includes altering nature to the full extent that we're able to in order to support our success as a species. All species do this to the full extent that they're able.
        • by jonnythan (79727) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @11:55AM (#46473901) Homepage

          Because we have power lines everywhere and as far as I know we haven't really spent a lot of time considering the possibility that a simple power line is a de facto boundary to an animal's habitat. It's kind of a big deal when there are serious, important aspects of land use planning and environmental conservation that absolutely rely on accurately predicting and knowing an animal's range and habitat.

          • by JoeyRox (2711699)
            Is there an individual or species's intelligence that will ever compete with the collective intelligence of the billions of individual evolutionary processes occurring around us? Does nature consider the impact of these processes before allowing them to occur?
            • by jonnythan (79727)

              Nature doesn't "consider" anything. Your argument is basically that nature will adapt around us. Yes, it will..... but it might "adapt" in ways that eliminate important species, destroy biodiversity, and generally ravage the environment around us. Nature may "adapt" in ways that suck total ass for both us and millions of other species.

          • To me it is ridiculous to think that power lines could have any where near the impact that a well-traveled roadway does.

            • by jonnythan (79727)

              I'm sure that they don't. But we understand that roadways isolate areas and cut up habitats. We never really thought power lines would do that. But now maybe we do.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          In my various travels, power lines are often placed near and parallel a roadway. That is less true in mountainous regions, where "the path with the least construction needs" can be over the top of a mountain for power lines and around it for the road, but it is a common trend.

          So, if animals are learning to avoid the UV flashes of power lines, it also implies they are less prone to migrating across roads. If you like the continued existence of wild animals, that would be a good thing.

        • by dave420 (699308) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @12:08PM (#46474015)

          I appreciate your stance, but this whole "but X is adaptable!" answer to having to change our behaviour to help X is clearly limited. We need to know the scale of the impact before we know if they're adaptable enough to adapt to the changes we are throwing at them. I'm sure you appreciate that if the change we are talking about is simply making them walk 1 meter out of their way - they can probably adapt to that. If the change is causing them to jump off cliffs, there's not much adaptability that would work in that case.

          Are you aware that we rely on other species to survive? We evolved with those other species around - removing them from our environment might indeed change the balance of wildlife to the point where things we directly rely on start being affected by our changes to other species. Yes, humans are awesome and clever and can fly and go to the moon and everything, but we still breathe the same air as other (air-breathing) animals, drink the same water, and live on the same planet.

          Our role in nature should be to not mess with nature so much that we die out. The status quo got us this far - changing it too much is not a good idea. Science can tell us what constitutes "too much", and ignoring that is folly. Suicidal folly.

          • by JoeyRox (2711699)
            Yes our success is likely dependent on the survival of species around us. No we aren't smart enough (yet) to comprehend the permutations of possibilities and outcomes to conclude whether a particular action we take is ultimately helpful or harmful to us as a species.

            We don't mess with nature. We are nature. The fact that our actions come about via volitional acts of cognition makes them no less natural than any other observable behavior from other species.
          • by pla (258480)
            Are you aware that we rely on other species to survive? We evolved with those other species around - removing them from our environment might indeed change the balance of wildlife to the point where things we directly rely on start being affected by our changes to other species.

            Don't worry, we're adaptable. We can just find some other way to metabolize glucose into ATP after we kill all the oxygen-producing creatures on the planet. Just one little atom, anyway - And heck, other critters use sulfur inst
        • by r1348 (2567295)

          As Spiderman would say: "With great powers come great responsabilities"

        • by sjames (1099)

          Sometimes the animal adaptation proves to be a problem for us (and the animals). For example, not everyone is terribly happy that coyotes have adapted to suburban living. A lot of people aren't that happy that bears have adapted to food locked in small cars.

          • Sometimes the animal adaptation proves to be a problem for us (and the animals). For example, not everyone is terribly happy that coyotes have adapted to suburban living. A lot of people aren't that happy that bears have adapted to food locked in small cars.

            While building the Alyeska Pipeline workers were taken out to the job site in buses; where they would leave their lunches. I've heard a few stories where a bear(s) had taken over the bus for the food.

            Each story had the workers waiting until the bear was through until they could get back in.

            Most of the time things like that don't work out well for the Bears. If the sites weren't so remote a group might of shown up, knocked the Bear out and flown it 200 miles away "so they couldn't find their way back".

            The th

        • "So the question remains - why is it a big deal if animal behavior is altered?"

          Depends on the alteration, of course, but in general imposing new stressors often leads to death, even extinction.

          "calling humans an invasive species discounts our role in nature.... altering nature to the full extent that we're able"

          Yes, altering the environment is pretty much the defining characteristic of an invasive species. With the exception of our nomadic hunter-gatherer ancestors, "our role in nature" is to disrupt the e

          • by AK Marc (707885)

            Yes, altering the environment is pretty much the defining characteristic of an invasive species.

            There's a difference between indirectly interacting with the environment in a manner that changes it (eating the deer, causing changes to the plants and other animals in the area), and directly interacting with the environment (draining swamps and filling in coastal areas to "reclaim" land).

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        I plan on putting some power lines over my vegetable garden now. I wonder if I can make a solar powered UV flashing light to scare away animals?

        • I wonder if I can make a solar powered UV flashing light to scare away animals?

          A couple UV LED's and a 555 timer. Hell, you might be able to mod one of those solar-powered outdoor lights.

          • I wonder if I can make a solar powered UV flashing light to scare away animals?

            A couple UV LED's and a 555 timer. Hell, you might be able to mod one of those solar-powered outdoor lights.

            Or just use a bug zapper. Of course, that might kill off the pollenators as well.

            • I wonder if I can make a solar powered UV flashing light to scare away animals?

              A couple UV LED's and a 555 timer. Hell, you might be able to mod one of those solar-powered outdoor lights.

              Or just use a bug zapper. Of course, that might kill off the pollenators as well.

              Yea, that could be a problem. Then again, it begs the question, what effect do the UV light pulses have on pollinators such as bees?

        • Let us all know if this works....The deer and rabbits decimate my wife's garden every year. Somewhere in my basement, I have a 200KV power supply....a little motion sensor to kick off the spark gaps...hmmmmm.

          • by MobyDisk (75490)

            I suggest that you enclose the spark gap so dried debris can't blow into it and ignite.

    • by RichMan (8097)

      As people don't like living under power lines the land is often left wild, a lot of power line corridors are counted as wildlife corridors. This would tend to indicate that animals also don't like living under power lines and that corridors should not be counted as wildlife corridors.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Does everything humans do that affects animal behavior need to be altered or fixed?

      No. We should continue to eat them.

    • The question is more like: should humans stay away from those power lines as well?

  • Reindeer (Score:5, Funny)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @11:22AM (#46473569)

    Well, of course reindeer are especially scared of power lines. They're a hazard for most low-flying objects.

  • by Max Threshold (540114) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @11:26AM (#46473611)
    Troll Hunter really was a documentary.
  • by ACluk90 (2618091) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @11:35AM (#46473695)

    I was wondering whether there UV flash also exist for DC transmission lines. Is there any expert around who knows that?

    This is of interest as it is very difficult to build new power lines all over Europe, usually resulting in around 20 years of legal battle for a mere 30 km of power lines far away from any densely populated area. This is just slightly reduced for buried transmission lines with all their disadvantages. Thus a current idea/discussion is to hang DC power lines on existing poles for long distance transmission.

    • by kyrsjo (2420192) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @12:15PM (#46474081)

      I would think so - corona discharges are dependent on electric field, not frequency (and 50/60 Hz is pretty much DC anyway).

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)
        The development of a corona (surrounding plasma) is dependent on the electric field, but wouldn't discrete discharges be specific to the pulsing AC field? I would expect DC to just produce a constant, muted glow, rather than flashes.
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Why so many delays with burried? And what are their disadvantages? The reports I've read indicate they have lower support costs and higher reliability (in areas where backhoes aren't free-range).
  • Can most animals also see infrared light? This may not be commonly known, but we, warm blooded animals, glow. Our body heat cause the emission of photons in the infrared spectrum, this is how forward looking infrared (FLIR) cameras work. Anyways, I was just wondering if animals can see other animals glowing at night.

    • by compro01 (777531) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @12:26PM (#46474183)

      Thermal emissions from body heat are a fair ways into the IR range, around 8000-15000nm. For reference, human vision peters out around 700nm. I believe it's only possible to detect that with specialized sensory organs, such as pit viper's eponymous thermal pits.

    • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @12:33PM (#46474245)

      Thermal IR (the wavelengths emitted by things around body temperature) is really low-energy. It's hard to focus, and hard to detect, especially with a detector that's already in the same temperature range. Pit vipers, vampire bats and some other animals do it, but the mechanism's fundamentally different from normal vision, and doesn't provide much in the way of an actual focused image. (The pit viper's pit is sort of like a pinhole camera with a really big pinhole.)

      Near-IR, the kind of thing that cheap digital security cameras can see, is higher-energy. It can be emitted thermally, but you've got to get pretty hot (hundreds of degrees) to produce significant amounts. Go a little hotter, and you can produce visible light ("red-hot", "white-hot", etc.).

      Even near-IR is hard to pick up with a chemical process, though, the way retinal cells pick up visible light. I'm not aware of any animals that can see significantly further than us into the near-IR -- okay, a bit of Googling turned up one fish that can do it [themunicheye.com].

    • by ledow (319597)

      If the TV program QI is to be believed, we actually bioluminesce too, and not just in IR (which is really just the visible artefact of heat).

      An awful lot of stuff bioluminesces too - an awful lot of deep sea fish, quite obviously, but there are millions of things that could be seen by something able to see light very well.

      "Pure" IR is hard to detect for an animal. UV is just a small extension into the parts of light that already produce huge bodily effects at even low levels (blindness, sunburn, etc.). Yo

  • Magnetic fields too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomhath (637240) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @11:56AM (#46473911)
    Many animals can see or detect the Earth's magnetic field [wikipedia.org]. I have to believe those transmission lines and arcing cause some serious anomalies in what they sense.
  • Apparently quite a few birds can also see UV. Knowing that, would it be possible to use a UV light system to steer birds away from windmills? It appears that bird deaths is a major problem point for the renewable energy source, so any passive way of warding birds away from them would be a good thing.

    • Apparently quite a few birds can also see UV. Knowing that, would it be possible to use a UV light system to steer birds away from windmills? It appears that bird deaths is a major problem point for the renewable energy source, so any passive way of warding birds away from them would be a good thing.

      Where I live is fairly windy all the freaking time, the South horizon is just an endless line of wind turbines. UV at the end of each blade might not be a bad idea.

      • My city (Melbourne, Oz) is on the upper edge of the southern ocean's "roaring forties", there are a few windmills dotted around the state but for some reason we are still fully reliant on brown coal for electricity, a mine that feeds the coal plants recently caught fire and burnt for a month resulting in the town of Morwell being partially evacuated due to the toxic cloud from the fire. Looking at it from a purely logical POV, it's fucking insane!

        The US is a paradox. From the very beginning of talks in t
    • by mikael (484)

      At night-time, birds tend to fly towards light. Many downtowns with skyscraper office blocks end up with flocks of dead birds at street level due to birds flying towards the office lights. If anything you would need bright lights at either side of the wind turbines, so the birds could see a safe path to fly along.

    • It appears that bird deaths is a major problem point for the renewable energy source

      No it is not a "major problem", can we drop please that bullshit meme, smaller (fast spinning) windmills and windmills built on migration paths do kill birds and this was a minor problem in the early days that closed down a few mills. Modern windmills sited with a bit of forethought are no more likely to kill birds than a stationary skyscraper.

      Minor problem* - The number of birds killed by flying into windmills and other large buildings pales into insignificance when you consider the impact of domestic c

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Birds land on power lines all the time. If there was an issue where birds didn't go near UV flashes, then why are they sitting on a UV flash generator?
    • by ledow (319597)

      Well found. Looks like a very common problem, and useful to spot such things before they become a bigger problem anyway.

  • by Rambo Tribble (1273454) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @02:21PM (#46475369)
    ... people are not entirely visually oblivious to the UV spectrum; most popular laundry detergents include UV reflection enhancers that make the clothes treated with them look brighter. Hunters often employ special detergents to avoid this and its affect on game. This leads me to wonder if those who claim to have adverse reactions, such as headaches, when in proximity to power lines might not, in fact, simply be more sensitive to UV spectra, and hence, these corona events.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The UV suff in laundry detergents does not reflect UV light. IT flouresces in the visible spectrum (blueish) when illuminated by UV light, thus actually making the clothes brighter (as long as UV radiation is present).

  • by slapout (93640)

    Wonder if I can train my dog to tell me when the batteries in my remote are low

  • Probably prohibitively expensive, but it would be nice if, someday, all that shit was underground. It looks horrible and is susceptible to lightning strikes, airplanes, helicopters (and now drones), falling trees, hurricanes, tornadoes and terrorist sabotage. And again, it just looks horrible. We bury fiber, copper, natural gas and water lines, so why is all our electrical strung up like the crack baby of a Christmas tree and a giant spider?
  • Bastard loves the power cables of my PC !!!

Profanity is the one language all programmers know best.

Working...