Partners Involved: Seabirds, Scientists (University of Tokyo)
Type of Partnership: Win-Neutral for Public and Planet
Partnership Models: Data Partner
Data collected by seabirds helps improve weather forecasts. In the context of climate change, it allows researchers to better understand their capacity to adapt to these changes.
Scientists collect data on the activity patterns, behavior and physiology of wild animals in their natural habitat to ensure effective wildlife conservation. However, doing so can be challenging or impossible through direct observation, so since the 1980s, they have been using electronic data recorders small enough to be attached to animals. This approach is called bio-logging. Katsufumi Sato, behavioral ecologist at the University of Tokyo is one of Japan’s foremost researchers in this field; it was during an international conference he hosted, that the word “bio-logging” was coined.
For many years, Sato has deployed seabirds like streaked shearwaters as part of his research team. By outfitting them with small data-recording devices, he was looking to better understand the navigation strategy of seabirds. It turned out that a byproduct of this research was valuable information that could contribute to weather science. Exploring this, Sato asks: “Wouldn’t that be cool if animals could help us forecast the weather better?”
As seabirds can travel great distances, they capture massive volumes of data that are useful for weather simulations—including temperature, wind speed, and currents—and from multiple locations above the ocean that would normally be too difficult or costly to collect using traditional methods. Since 2015, researchers in Sato’s lab have been working with other institutions, to provide scientific evidence that the data collected by seabirds can improve weather forecasts.
SDGs Targeted: SDG 13 Climate Action, SDG 15 Life on Land
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