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Coupling Atmospheric and Biological Remote Sensing to Investigate Boundary-Layer Evolution and Animal Flight Behavior as Affected by the 2017 North American Solar Eclipse

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
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Remote Sens. 2020, 12(4), 591; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12040591
Received: 18 December 2019 / Revised: 29 January 2020 / Accepted: 7 February 2020 / Published: 11 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radar Aeroecology)
The daytime atmospheric boundary layer is characterized by vertical convective motions that are driven by solar radiation. Lift provided by thermal updrafts is sufficiently ubiquitous that some diurnal birds and arthropods have evolved specialized flight behaviors to soar or embed in these atmospheric currents. While the diel periodicity of boundary-layer dynamics and animal flight has been characterized, rare disruptions to this cycle provide a chance to investigate animal behavioral responses to boundary layer motion and photoperiod that are disjointed from their expected circadian rhythm. To analyze these interactions, we couple radar-derived animal observations with co-located lidar measurements of the convective boundary layer over north-central Oklahoma, USA during the solar eclipse of 21 August 2017. Analysis of animal flight behavior confirmed that ascending and descending flight effort did change in the time period encompassing the solar eclipse, however, the response in behavior was coincident with proximate changes in boundary-layer turbulence. Both the animal behavioral response and decrease in atmospheric turbulence lagged changes in solar irradiance by approximately 30 min, suggesting that changes in flight activity were not cued by the eclipse directly, but rather by the modification of vertical air motions caused by the eclipse. View Full-Text
Keywords: aeroecology; biometeorology; lidar; radar aeroecology; biometeorology; lidar; radar
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Stepanian, P.M.; Wainwright, C.E. Coupling Atmospheric and Biological Remote Sensing to Investigate Boundary-Layer Evolution and Animal Flight Behavior as Affected by the 2017 North American Solar Eclipse. Remote Sens. 2020, 12, 591.

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