Using Weather Radar as Pest Control


A group of UK meteorologists are partnering with insect researchers to monitor levels of flying insect activity.

The idea came from University of Leeds Insect Ecologist, Christopher Hassall, and atmospheric scientist Ryan Neely III during an academic gathering in late 2016.

“I work on bees, and Neely said, ‘I see bees in my radar data all the time, and we throw that data out,’” Hassall recalled.

The two formed BioDAR. The collaboration will create a map of insect populations in the UK, showing areas of high and low insect variety and abundance. They hope to look into important issues in conservation, such as how man-made changes to the environment are affecting wildlife.

Since it’s inception, BioDAR has received support from the National Environment Research Council and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as partnerships with local radar data in Rwanda, Mali, and South Africa.

The goal is to create a “bug map” to predict insect migration patterns, track infestations that might harm crops, and help meteorologists identify the swarms that show up in their radar. Hassall says the ultimate goal is to hand off the algorithm to create a global map.

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