Wind Turbines Make Bats’ Lungs Explode

I thought this was a hoax when I first read it, but it’s serious – and even though I’m all up for renewable energy sources (including wind-power), this is a little worrying.

Many people know that if you’ve been SCUBA diving or snorkelling deep down, you need to exhale as you surface – and not rise too quickly. This is because a rapid decrease in pressure as you surface can cause bubbles of nitrogen to form in the blood, leading to potentially fatal bends.

Well it seems a similar pressure-related phenomenon has been causing bats to drop dead near wind turbines – although instead of nitrogen bubbles forming, their lungs have been violently haemmoraging. Simply put, the high air speed around the tips of the blades cause a dramatic drop in air pressure. Bats can’t detect changes in air pressure with their echolocation, so fly through this areas. When the air pressure drops, their lungs expand and then pop.

For a great article about this, head on over to Ed Yong’s award-winning  Not Exactly Rocket Science.

Here’s NewScientist’s video on the same subject:

One simple solution posted on Ed’s comments section suggest that a high-frequency noise might keep the bats at a safe distance. That would have the added benefit of keeping away the teenagers!

Here’s the link to an old post about an exploding wind turbine.

About Stephen

Director of Learning & MYP Coordinator at Canadian Academy, Kobe, Japan. Formerly MYP HS Science & IBDP Bio teacher and missing it terribly. Twitterist (@sjtylr), dad and bloggerer.

Posted on August 30, 2008, in Environments, Physics, YouTube and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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