Weatherwatch: forecasts can protect animals too

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When extreme weather is on the way we expect weather forecasts to give us ample warning. Whether it’s an amber warning for heavy rain (and associated flooding), a map showing a hurricane’s likely path, or a forecast for dry conditions and wildfire hazard, today’s weather forecasts give people time to prepare. But it isn’t only people who can benefit from advances in weather forecasting: animals can too.

Victoria Boult, a meteorologist at the University of Reading, believes that weather forecasts have the potential to be an important conservation tool. For example, the temperature of the sand in which a sea turtle lays its eggs is critical; if temperatures become too hot the developing turtles inside the eggs die. “If a weather forecast indicates very high temperatures are expected at a turtle nesting beach then conservationists can take early action to prevent losses, by installing temporary structures over the nests to provide shade, or by excavating the nests and artificially incubating the eggs at safe temperatures,” explains Boult.

Although this kind of forecast-based action does not prevent the extreme weather it can at least reduce the damage associated with it. And as the climate emergency throws more challenges our way early action is going to become ever more important.

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