Nocturnal v diurnal meso-avoidance behaviors of birds in and around the Aberdeen Offshore Windfarm and under varying weather conditions
Lead Supervisor: Dr Aldina M A Franco
Location: University of East Anglia, School of Environmental Sciences
Duration: 8 weeks
Suitable undergraduate degrees: Environmental Sciences
The need for renewable energy has been internationally recognized for decades, and is supported by international agreements, commitments and directives. Amongst the most notable include the Kyoto Protocol (1992), the Paris Agreement (2016), and the UN SDG7 roadmap (2021) and the Glasgow Climate Pact (2021) (Fox, Petersen, 2019; UN, 2021; UN 2021). The UK has significant offshore wind electricity generating potential, with a report finding that of a total 450 GW capacity across Europe, the UK alone makes up 80 GW, or nearly 18% (Freeman, et al., 2019). The Offshore Wind Sector Deal (2019), committed to develop 40 GW of offshore wind by 2030, and most recently in the Energy Security Strategy (2022) the aspiration for 50 GW by 2030 (Fox, Petersen, 2019; HM Gov, 2019; BEIS, 2020; HM Gov, 2022).
While the need for rapid offshore wind development in the UK is clear, there are significant environmental concerns that need to be addressed. In particular, the potential avian-related environmental impacts of offshore wind farms (Skov, et al., 2018). The primary impact of offshore wind farms on birds is collision (Fox, Petersen, 2019). Many studies emphasized the need for site-specific environmental impact assessments and studies considering avoidance behaviour of gulls and seabirds that included environmental covariates (e.g. wind) to describe spatial and temporal variations in seabird distributions. This project, developed in collaboration with Vattenfall aims to address these gaps in knowledge using the data obtained at the Aberdeen offshore windfarm.
Research question: Are there significant differences in bird meso-avoidance behaviours around the Aberdeen offshore windfarm diurnally v. nocturnally and with different weather conditions?
Methods: radar data will be available to examine bird avoidance of the meso windfarm area. Weather data will be provided by engineers at Vattenfall and this will be used to examine avoidance behaviours with differing weather conditions. The student will use both GIS and R to visualise and analyse the datasets. This project includes a week of field work that will be used to validate the radar data obtained and to collect information on bird flight height.
This is a two tiered application process. Initial applicant selection will be made by project supervisors and a further interview (online) will be conducted by UEA members of ARIES on the afternoon of Tuesday 13th June.