sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery

 

Sail-World.com : How Albatrosses fly such vast distances - tacking upwind

How Albatrosses fly such vast distances - tacking upwind

'Albatross'       Click Here to view large photo

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution discovers Albatrosses tack upwind

The answer, says Philip L. Richardson of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), lies in a concept called dynamic soaring, in which the large bird utilizes the power of above-ocean wind shear while tacking like an airborne sailboat.


An oceanographer may be offering the best explanation yet of one of the great mysteries of flight—how albatrosses fly such vast distances, even around the world, almost without flapping their wings.

'I have a simple model that explains the basic physics of what albatrosses do,' says Richardson, a scientist emeritus at WHOI, who, in addition to his primary career in studying ocean currents, has also piloted gliders. The key, he says, is the bird’s ability to balance the kinetic energy gained in soaring with the energy lost from drag.

Albatrosses extract energy from winds to soar, as seen in these diagrammatic views from the side (left) and from overhead (right). Above a wave, winds blow progressively faster the higher you ascend.

As albatrosses rise at an angle from a relatively windless wave trough, they cross a boundary into an area of brisk winds. They abruptly gain airspeed, giving them a burst of kinetic energy that allows them to climb to heights of 10 to 15 meters above the ocean. Then they bank downwind and swoop dow -  WHOI Graphic Services   Click Here to view large photo


In a paper published in the winter 2011 issue of the journal Progress in Oceanography, Richardson says that dynamic soaring using wind shear accounts for '80 to 90 percent of the total energy required for sustained soaring.' He explains that above ocean waves, winds blow in layers—near the surface, air-sea friction slows lower-level winds while winds blow faster at higher levels.

As an albatross climbs from a wave trough, it is met by progressively faster winds that provide a burst of energy, increasing its speed significantly and carrying it as high as 10 to 15 meters.

Richardson was particularly intrigued by how the birds could be doing this while flying into the wind, something he had observed from a ship in the South Atlantic Ocean. 'It’s been a mystery how they fly this way,' he said.

A pilot, sailor, and oceanographer, Phil Richardson studied the interactions of winds, waves, and albatrosses and constructed a new picture to explain the dynamics of albatross flight. -  Heidi Richardson  


Drawing on previous theories by Nobel laureate physicist Lord Rayleigh in 1883 and later by British scientist Colin Pennycuick, Richardson devised a model that accounts for the albatross’s dramatic, accelerating climbs and dives and elegant twists and turns, incorporating winds and waves.

It also explained the bird’s ability to seemingly fly upwind. To travel upwind, a sailor tacks into the wind. Richardson realized that albatrosses do the same thing. Using his model, he calculated that the bird tacks at about a 30-degree angle, 'like a sailboat.' 'They are using wind shear both ways,' he says. 'To climb up and dive down.' Using the model, he estimates that it takes a minimum wind speed of about seven knots for an albatross to soar.

In further describing this dynamic soaring, Richardson says what he has done is to refine previous models. While calculating that dynamic soaring accounts for the vast majority of energy for albatross flight, he says the remaining 10 to 20 percent comes from updrafts. 'It’s a simple model that explains what albatrosses do,' he said. 'It helps us understand how nature works.'

Beyond that, Richardson suggests that understanding albatross flight might help increase the speeds of radio-controlled gliders, or someday enable fleets of such gliders to be dispatched to measure oceans, he said.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, independent organization in Falmouth, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment.

website

The wingspans of wandering albatrosses can reach 12 feet, but they rarely flap their wings. Instead they take advantage of winds and waves to remain aloft without expending energy. -  Phil Richardson Richardson?nid=82090 (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)  




by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=82090

2:04 PM Tue 5 Apr 2011 GMT






Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.


News - USA and the World























International Moth Worlds: Rashley ahead as Aussies close in by Mark Jardine / YachtsandYachting.com,




















International Moth Worlds - Mothballed on day 4 + Video by Mark Jardine / YachtsandYachting.com,




Gladwell's Line: A change of direction needed in the America's Cup *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz,




















PWA Pozo World Cup - Fantastic finale determines winners
Six Metre Class British Open Championship - Llanoria and Valhalla win
Anna Tunnicliffe set to compete at the CrossFit Games
America's Cup: Oracle Team USA holds foiling camp at Wangi SC
Volvo Ocean Race: Abu Dhabi OR completes double Atlantic crossing
Volvo Ocean Race: Team SCA has a 'pull through day' off the Canaries
No tiller sailing - how to steer using just the sails + Video
International Moth Worlds: Three bullets in a row for Greenhalgh
U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championship - Sophia Reineke wins
BIC Techno 293 Worlds 2014 - Day 0 Opening
Fuerteventura World Cup - Slalom action highlights day 2
2014 Governor's Cup - Sam Gilmour of RFBYC victorious again
Farr 40 West Coast Champ - Skipper Alberto Rossi leads Enfant Terrible
Flying Dutchman World Championships - Magyars are the Masters
Final day shakes up standings at Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek
2014 -15 Volvo Ocean Race: Team Alvimedica pushing towards Southampton
NYYC Race Week - Saving the best for last
VX One North American Championship - Chris Alexander commands
2014 Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek - Waiting game on Day 3
International Moth Worlds: Thunderstorms delay racing on Day 1
Fuerteventura World Cup - Impressive tricks on day 1   
2014 Governor's Cup - Two former winners in the finals   
America's Cup: Iain Murray explains reasons for Australian withdrawal *Feature   
Wilson and Roble remain number one match racers in U.S.   
2014 ISAF Youth Match Racing World Championship - Set to start   
PWA Pozo World Cup - Moreno twins dominate home spot   
ISAF Youth Worlds - Record breaking regatta in Tavira + Video   
Melges 32 European Championship - Robertissima remains out front   
Farr 40 West Coast Championship - Italians take one-point lead   
Melges 32 European Championship - Day 3 images by Carlo Borlenghi   
New York Yacht Club Race Week - Marstrom 32 fleet off to anxious start   
Melges 32 European Championship - Day 3 images by Max Ranchi   
CYC Race to Mackinac - Cruising fleet sets sail in 106th edition   
Team Alvimedica getting a touchup   
PWA Pozo World Cup - Plenty of drama on day 5   
ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship - Day 5 Videos   
NYYC Race Week - High performance classes put on shoreside show   
2014 Pacific Cup - 'Invisible Hand' the first boat to finish   
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - B.C.'s Eric Holden skippers wins   
America's Cup: Updates on Team Australia withdraw   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL WAS US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT