Wind Turbines Murdering Bats By Popping Their Lungs

On the list of ways to go, having your lungs explode is definitely on the gnarlier side. Too bad for bats in treehugging locales, though, because that's what's happening to them, due to a pretty serious error with their awesome echolcation systems crossing with the seemingly benign forces of Bernoulli's principle put into motion by the turbines' huge spinning blades. Ouch all around.

What happens is the bats' internal echolocation, which tracks movement, attracts them to the blades of wind turbines, which presents another fairly obvious problem. But a University of Calgary researcher, puzzled by bats dying off in large numbers around wind farms in southern Alberta has found that those that don't get cut down by the blades (surprisingly only 50%) are actually dying from exploded lungs, or barotrauma; the low pressure areas around the spinning rotors, as explained by our friend Bernoulli, cause the bats' tiny air sacs to burst. Even those that do get knocked out of the sky by the blades have their lungs popped beforehand—of the 188 dead bats in the study, 90% had barotrauma as the cause of death.

I'm thinking this is going to have to remain one of those problems without an immediate solution. Hopefully the bats will evolve to realise that the massive spinning turbine blades do not equal a tasty insectoid meal. [New Scientist, Photo: Zeusandhera]

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