Study says Golden eagles may use turbulence to accelerate

The eagle’s accelerations exhibit power spectra and intermittent activity characteristic of turbulence

Scientists in their new study combine wind speed data with the measured accelerations of a golden eagle (Aquila Chrysaetos) flying in the wild. This study helps to find evidence in favour of a linear relationship between the eagle’s accelerations and atmospheric turbulence for timescales between about 1/2 and 10 seconds.


These timescales are comparable to those of typical eagle behaviours, corresponding to between about 1 and 25 wing beats, and to those of turbulent squalls both larger than the eagle's wingspan and smaller than large-scale atmospheric phenomena such as convection cells.


The study published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) on May 3, 2021. The study said “The eagle’s accelerations exhibit power spectra and intermittent activity characteristic of turbulence and increase in proportion to the turbulence intensity.”


Although soaring birds spend a significant portion of their lives navigating turbulent environments, the role turbulence plays in their lives is unclear. This holds especially when turbulent air currents fluctuate on similar timescales as avian flight behaviours.


The study also elaborates “Intermittency results in accelerations that are occasionally several times stronger than gravity, which the eagle works against to stay aloft. These imprints of turbulence on the bird’s movements need to be further explored to understand the energetic of birds and other Volant life-forms, to improve our own methods of flying through ceaselessly turbulent environments, and to engage airborne wildlife as distributed probes of the changing conditions in the atmosphere.”

India Scanner News Network

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