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Concept: Wind


We present a systematic and quantitative model of huddling penguins. In this mathematical model, each individual penguin in the huddle seeks only to reduce its own heat loss. Consequently, penguins on the boundary of the huddle that are most exposed to the wind move downwind to more sheltered locations along the boundary. In contrast, penguins in the interior of the huddle neither have the space to move nor experience a significant heat loss, and they therefore remain stationary. Through these individual movements, the entire huddle experiences a robust cumulative effect that we identify, describe, and quantify. This mathematical model requires a calculation of the wind flowing around the huddle and of the resulting temperature distribution. Both of these must be recomputed each time an individual penguin moves since the huddle shape changes. Using our simulation results, we find that the key parameters affecting the huddle dynamics are the number of penguins in the huddle, the wind strength, and the amount of uncertainty in the movement of the penguins. Moreover, we find that the lone assumption of individual penguins minimizing their own heat loss results in all penguins having approximately equal access to the warmth of the huddle.

Concepts: Mathematics, Physics, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Heat, Heat transfer, Penguin, Wind


Wind turbines continuously remove kinetic energy from the lower troposphere, thereby reducing the wind speed near hub height. The rate of electricity generation in large wind farms containing multiple wind arrays is, therefore, constrained by the rate of kinetic energy replenishment from the atmosphere above. In recent years, a growing body of research argues that the rate of generated power is limited to around 1.5 W m(-2) within large wind farms. However, in this study, we show that considerably higher power generation rates may be sustainable over some open ocean areas. In particular, the North Atlantic is identified as a region where the downward transport of kinetic energy may sustain extraction rates of 6 W m(-2) and above over large areas in the annual mean. Furthermore, our results indicate that the surface heat flux from the oceans to the atmosphere may play an important role in creating regions where sustained high rates of downward transport of kinetic energy and thus, high rates of kinetic energy extraction may be geophysical possible. While no commercial-scale deep water wind farms yet exist, our results suggest that such technologies, if they became technically and economically feasible, could potentially provide civilization-scale power.

Concepts: Energy, Water, Atlantic Ocean, Ocean, Wind, Wind power, Wind farm, Wind turbine


Several studies have analyzed the effects of weather on factors associated with weight loss. In this study, we directly analyzed the effect of weather on intentional weight loss using global-scale data provided by smartphone applications. Through Weather Underground API and the Noom Coach application, we extracted information on weather and body weight for each user located in each of several geographic areas on all login days. We identified meteorological information (pressure, precipitation, wind speed, dew point, and temperature) and self-monitored body weight data simultaneously. A linear mixed-effects model was performed analyzing 3274 subjects. Subjects in North America had higher initial BMIs than those of subjects in Eastern Asia. During the study period, most subjects who used the smartphone application experienced weight loss in a significant way (80.39%, p-value < 0.001). Subjects who infrequently recorded information about dinner had smaller variations than those of other subjects (βfreq.users dinner*time = 0.007, p-value < 0.001). Colder temperature, lower dew point, and higher values for wind speed and precipitation were significantly associated with weight loss. In conclusion, we found a direct and independent impact of meteorological conditions on intentional weight loss efforts on a global scale (not only on a local level).

Concepts: Climate, Weather, Humidity, Meteorology, North America, Wind, Monsoon, Fog


The desktop slot exhaust hood has been widely used, but it is calculated by empirical formula. Axial velocity change rule of desktop slot exhaust hood can effectively provide the basis of the wind speed needed in order to control the poison. According to gas motion mathematical model, the geometry model and boundary conditions of desktop slot exhaust hood was established, and the influence of the hood sizes to axial velocity were analyzed by Fluent simulation. The changes of relationship between the axial velocity(V) and the distance from the hood mouth (L), the short edge of the hood mouth(a), the long edge of the hood mouth(b), the equivalent diameter of the hood mouth(d) and the square root of the hood mouth area(√A) were comparative analyzed by dimensionless processing. The result is the V/V0with L/d have better change rule. The axial velocity change rule of different axial velocity were also analyzed using V/V0with L/d change rule, and the change rule of V/V0with L/d of desktop slot exhaust hood was obtained, which was verified by experiment.

Concepts: Mathematics, Economics, Science, Geometry, Empiricism, Wind, Mathematical model, Square root


The engraved trails of rocks on the nearly flat, dry mud surface of Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park, have excited speculation about the movement mechanism since the 1940s. Rock movement has been variously attributed to high winds, liquid water, ice, or ice flotation, but has not been previously observed in action. We recorded the first direct scientific observation of rock movements using GPS-instrumented rocks and photography, in conjunction with a weather station and time-lapse cameras. The largest observed rock movement involved >60 rocks on December 20, 2013 and some instrumented rocks moved up to 224 m between December 2013 and January 2014 in multiple move events. In contrast with previous hypotheses of powerful winds or thick ice floating rocks off the playa surface, the process of rock movement that we have observed occurs when the thin, 3 to 6 mm, “windowpane” ice sheet covering the playa pool begins to melt in late morning sun and breaks up under light winds of ∼4-5 m/s. Floating ice panels 10 s of meters in size push multiple rocks at low speeds of 2-5 m/min. along trajectories determined by the direction and velocity of the wind as well as that of the water flowing under the ice.

Concepts: Scientific method, Water, Weather, Observation, Wind, Death Valley National Park, Death Valley, Racetrack Playa


Temporally inconsistent and potentially unreliable global historical data hinder the detection of trends in tropical cyclone activity. This limits our confidence in evaluating proposed linkages between observed trends in tropical cyclones and in the environment. Here we mitigate this difficulty by focusing on a metric that is comparatively insensitive to past data uncertainty, and identify a pronounced poleward migration in the average latitude at which tropical cyclones have achieved their lifetime-maximum intensity over the past 30 years. The poleward trends are evident in the global historical data in both the Northern and the Southern hemispheres, with rates of 53 and 62 kilometres per decade, respectively, and are statistically significant. When considered together, the trends in each hemisphere depict a global-average migration of tropical cyclone activity away from the tropics at a rate of about one degree of latitude per decade, which lies within the range of estimates of the observed expansion of the tropics over the same period. The global migration remains evident and statistically significant under a formal data homogenization procedure, and is unlikely to be a data artefact. The migration away from the tropics is apparently linked to marked changes in the mean meridional structure of environmental vertical wind shear and potential intensity, and can plausibly be linked to tropical expansion, which is thought to have anthropogenic contributions.

Concepts: Tropic of Cancer, Thunderstorm, Tropical cyclone, Tornado, Cyclone, Wind, Equator, Wind shear


Ocean surface winds are an essential factor in understanding the physical interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean. Surface winds measured by satellite scatterometers and buoys cover most of the global ocean; however, there are still spatial and temporal gaps and finer-scale variations of wind that may be overlooked, particularly in coastal areas. Here, we show that flight paths of soaring seabirds can be used to estimate fine-scale (every 5 min, ∼5 km) ocean surface winds. Fine-scale global positioning system (GPS) positional data revealed that soaring seabirds flew tortuously and ground speed fluctuated presumably due to tail winds and head winds. Taking advantage of the ground speed difference in relation to flight direction, we reliably estimated wind speed and direction experienced by the birds. These bird-based wind velocities were significantly correlated with wind velocities estimated by satellite-borne scatterometers. Furthermore, extensive travel distances and flight duration of the seabirds enabled a wide range of high-resolution wind observations, especially in coastal areas. Our study suggests that seabirds provide a platform from which to measure ocean surface winds, potentially complementing conventional wind measurements by covering spatial and temporal measurement gaps.

Concepts: Measurement, Navigation, Systems of measurement, Ocean, Wind, Global Positioning System, Wind power, GPS


Prevailing abiotic conditions may positively or negatively impact insects at both the individual and population levels. For example while moderate rainfall and wind velocity may provide conditions that favour development, as well as movement within and between habitats, high winds and heavy rains can significantly decrease life expectancy. There is some evidence that insects adjust their behaviours associated with flight, mating and foraging in response to changes in barometric pressure. We studied changes in different mating behaviours of three taxonomically unrelated insects, the curcurbit beetle, Diabrotica speciosa (Coleoptera), the true armyworm moth, Pseudaletia unipuncta (Lepidoptera) and the potato aphid, Macrosiphum euphorbiae (Hemiptera), when subjected to natural or experimentally manipulated changes in atmospheric pressure. In response to decreasing barometric pressure, male beetles exhibited decreased locomotory activity in a Y-tube olfactometer with female pheromone extracts. However, when placed in close proximity to females, they exhibited reduced courtship sequences and the precopulatory period. Under the same situations, females of the true armyworm and the potato aphid exhibited significantly reduced calling behaviour. Neither the movement of male beetles nor the calling of armyworm females differed between stable and increasing atmospheric pressure conditions. However, in the case of the armyworm there was a significant decrease in the incidence of mating under rising atmospheric conditions, suggesting an effect on male behaviour. When atmospheric pressure rose, very few M. euphorbiae oviparae called. This was similar to the situation observed under decreasing conditions, and consequently very little mating was observed in this species except under stable conditions. All species exhibited behavioural modifications, but there were interspecific differences related to size-related flight ability and the diel periodicity of mating activity. We postulate that the observed behavioral modifications, especially under decreasing barometric pressure would reduce the probability of injury or death under adverse weather conditions.

Concepts: Psychology, Insect, Weather, Atmospheric pressure, Behavior, Human behavior, Tropical cyclone, Wind


Bright sunlight may create visual illusions that lead to driver error, including fallible distance judgment from aerial perspective. We tested whether the risk of a life-threatening motor vehicle crash was increased when driving in bright sunlight.This longitudinal, case-only, paired-comparison analysis evaluated patients hospitalized because of a motor vehicle crash between January 1, 1995 and December 31, 2014. The relative risk of a crash associated with bright sunlight was estimated by evaluating the prevailing weather at the time and place of the crash compared with the weather at the same hour and location on control days a week earlier and a week later.The majority of patients (n = 6962) were injured during daylight hours and bright sunlight was the most common weather condition at the time and place of the crash. The risk of a life-threatening crash was 16% higher during bright sunlight than normal weather (95% confidence interval: 9-24, P < 0.001). The increased risk was accentuated in the early afternoon, disappeared at night, extended to patients with different characteristics, involved crashes with diverse features, not apparent with cloudy weather, and contributed to about 5000 additional patient-days in hospital. The increased risk extended to patients with high crash severity as indicated by ambulance involvement, surgical procedures, length of hospital stay, intensive care unit admission, and patient mortality. The increased risk was not easily attributed to differences in alcohol consumption, driving distances, or anomalies of adverse weather.Bright sunlight is associated with an increased risk of a life-threatening motor vehicle crash. An awareness of this risk might inform driver education, trauma staffing, and safety warnings to prevent a life-threatening motor vehicle crash.

Concepts: Hospital, Sun, Solar System, Normal distribution, Distance, Wind, Driver's license, Cloud


The British Isles benefits from dense meteorological observation networks, enabling insights into the still-unresolved effects of solar eclipse events on the near-surface wind field. The near-surface effects of the solar eclipse of 20 March 2015 are derived through comparison of output from the Met Office’s operational weather forecast model (which is ignorant of the eclipse) with data from two meteorological networks: the Met Office’s land surface station (MIDAS) network and a roadside measurement network operated by Vaisala. Synoptic-evolution relative calculations reveal the cooling and increase in relative humidity almost universally attributed to eclipse events. In addition, a slackening of wind speeds by up to about 2 knots in already weak winds and backing in wind direction of about 20° under clear skies across middle England are attributed to the eclipse event. The slackening of wind speed is consistent with the previously reported boundary layer stabilization during eclipse events. Wind direction changes have previously been attributed to a large-scale ‘eclipse-induced cold-cored cyclone’, mountain slope flows, and changes in the strength of sea breezes. A new explanation is proposed here by analogy with nocturnal wind changes at sunset and shown to predict direction changes consistent with those observed.This article is part of the themed issue ‘Atmospheric effects of solar eclipses stimulated by the 2015 UK eclipse’.

Concepts: Earth, Sun, Wind, Wind power, British Isles, Weather forecasting, Eclipse, Solar eclipse