Feeds

Wind turbines put bats under (low) pressure

Scientists probe barotrauma fatalities

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A research team from the University of Calgary has found that a large percentage of bat fatalities at wind turbine sites are caused by a sudden drop in air pressure around the turbine blades, the BBC reports.

Reports of bat deaths at wind farms had previously been documented in Europe and the US, but quite why these generally exceeded the numbers of dead birds succumbing to the fatal blades had not been explained.

The Calgary team now says that while bats can use their echolocation to pinpoint the blades, they "cannot detect the sharp pressure changes around the turbine".

If a bat enters this zone, it can suffer "barotrauma" - internal haemorrhaging provoked by sudden expansion of the lungs* which puts pressure on surrounding tissue and bursts capillaries. Birds, which have more "rigid and robust" lungs, are less susceptible to the condition.

Lead scientist Erin Baerwald said: "An atmospheric pressure drop at wind turbine blades is an undetectable - and potentially unforseeable - hazard for bats, thus partially explaining the large number of bat fatalities at these specific structures."

To prove their case, Baerwald and colleagues examined carcasses of hoary and silver-haired bats dispatched by a wind farm in south-western Alberta. They found that while "fewer than half had external injuries that could have been caused by collision", 90 per cent demonstrated internal haemorrhaging, "most notably in the chest cavity".

The findings indicated that "wildlife fatalities at wind turbines are now a bat issue, not a bird issue", Baerwald concluded.

The EU acted on the bat slaughter two years ago, before the exact cause was known, and "formally agreed to make developers aware of the risks, and find ways of monitoring bat migration routes". Accordingly, a proposal earlier this to build a wind farm near Bideford in north Devon was rejected "because of the potential impact on the mammals".

The Calagary team's findings are reported in the journal Current Biology. ®

Bootnote

*Just to clarify, the sudden drop in pressure expands the air already in the lungs. As our diving expert Lewis Page put it: "If the bat remembers to exhale when passing a wind turbine it should be ok."

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.