Data from: Wind estimation based on thermal soaring of birds

Flack A, Fiedler W, Wikelski M. 2016. Data from: Wind estimation based on thermal soaring of birds. Movebank Data Repository.
NOTE: An updated and larger version of this dataset is available. See doi:10.5441/001/1.ck04mn78. ABSTRACT: The flight performance of birds is strongly affected by the dynamic state of the atmosphere at the birds' locations. Studies of flight and its impact on the movement ecology of birds must consider the wind to help us understand aerodynamics and bird flight strategies. Here, we introduce a systematic approach to evaluate wind speed and direction from the high-frequency GPS recordings from bird-borne tags during thermalling flight. Our method assumes that a fixed horizontal mean wind speed during a short (18 seconds, 19 GPS fixes) flight segment with a constant turn angle along a closed loop, characteristic of thermalling flight, will generate a fixed drift for each consequent location. We use a maximum-likelihood approach to estimate that drift and to determine the wind and airspeeds at the birds' flight locations. We also provide error estimates for these GPS-derived wind speed estimates. We validate our approach by comparing its wind estimates with the mid-resolution weather reanalysis data from ECMWF, and by examining independent wind estimates from pairs of birds in a large dataset of GPS-tagged migrating storks that were flying in close proximity. Our approach provides accurate and unbiased observations of wind speed and additional detailed information on vertical winds and uplift structure. These precise measurements are otherwise rare and hard to obtain and will broaden our understanding of atmospheric conditions, flight aerodynamics, and bird flight strategies. With an increasing number of GPS-tracked animals, we may soon be able to use birds to inform us about the atmosphere they are flying through and thus improve future ecological and environmental studies.
Ciconia ciconia,animal tracking,avian migration,Ciconia ciconia,ECMWF,Env-DATA,GSM telemetry,GPS logger,Movebank,white stork
Ciconia ciconia
White Stork
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  title = {Data from: Wind estimation based on thermal soaring of birds},
  author = {Flack, A and Fiedler, W and Wikelski, M},
  year = {2016},
  URL = {},
  doi = {doi:10.5441/001/1.bj96m274},
  publisher = {Movebank data repository}
ID  - doi:10.5441/001/1.bj96m274
T1  - Data from: Wind estimation based on thermal soaring of birds
AU  - Flack, Andrea
AU  - Fiedler, Wolfgang
AU  - Wikelski, Martin
Y1  - 2016///
KW  - animal movement
KW  - animal tracking
KW  - avian migration
KW  - Ciconia ciconia
KW  - Env-DATA
KW  - GSM telemetry
KW  - GPS logger
KW  - Movebank
KW  - white stork
PB  - Movebank data repository
UR  -
DO  - doi:10.5441/001/1.bj96m274
ER  -