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Satellite images, instruments, applications, and forecasters – these are our modern sources of weather and climate information. But did you know that animals are also capable of telling us what kind of weather is coming our way?

Compared to humans, some animals have special capabilities and more developed senses of smell and hearing. Recently, a study called Biophony has been examining sounds in a habitat at a certain time to analyze animal behavior before storms.

According to Dr. Simon Robson from the School of Marine and Tropical Biology at the James Cook University-Australia, some animals have the ability to forecast the weather through their behavior. Get to know some of weather’s wonder animals!

Cows
According to farmers, cows have the ability to forecast the weather. When cows become restless and lie down in the field to claim dry spots, it means they sense bad weather.

Scientists at the Universities of Arizona and Northern Missouri conducted a study about the behavior of cows in connection to the weather. It showed that cows lie down when it is about to get cold, and stand for long hours when it is about to get hot.

cow_tito eric

Ants
When bad weather enters, ants, particularly the red and black, build up their mounds as extra protection for their holes. A higher mound may be a sign of incoming rains or thunderstorms.

Ants tend to scatter during good weather and travel in straight lines when rain is brewing. They close their holes before the rain, and open them in in fair or dry weather. Ants may even become more aggressive and destructive in a drought condition.

Mound Building Ant 4

Bees and butterflies
When bees and butterflies disappear from the flowerbeds, heavy rains are expected in the next hours. Butterflies and bees are referred to as indicator species.
Their short lifespans are also observed to study the effects of climate change.

Honey bee hovering near blue-eyed grass flower

Birds
A lot of legends have come out about the ability of birds to predict storms or other natural disasters. Scientists believe birds can hear infrasound, a type of low frequency noise produced by storms, which humans are not capable of hearing.

Most birds also have special middle-ear receptors called the Vitali organ that can sense small changes in air pressure. Birds that fly high in the sky signify good weather, but if they fly low, a thunderstorm or bad weather is approaching.

Some believe that birds fly lower before the rain because they try to get closer to the insects, which also fly lower to the ground before the showers. But others say that flying closer to the ground protects birds from the air pressure of a storm at higher altitudes.

V-formation-660x348
Other beliefs: if a rooster crows before sleeping, there is a chance of rain. Chickens that group together while scratching for food also indicate bad weather. When owls cry strangely in the night, good weather will probably be experienced the following day. Meanwhile, ducks behaving unusually could mean bad weather is approaching.

Frog
The frogs are believed to croak or sing longer and louder than the usual when bad weather is on the way. If the volume increases, rains or gusty winds may affect the area.

05-ingerophrynus-philippinicus-phil-toad

Spiders
Spiders building their webs are believed to signify good weather conditions. If you see their webs scattered in the air, it could mean a dry spell. Spiders tend to be active and leave their webs before the rain pours. If there’s an incoming storm, spiders strengthen their webs.

JAN_3138-XL

Though there is no enough scientific proof, some of these animals may have helped in weather forecasting during the ancient times.

But in this day and age, it is always best to monitor the weather, not necessarily through animal behavior, but through meteorological agencies for more accurate and reliable information.

Sources:
http://www.nc-mag.com/
http://www.skymetweather.com/
www.weather.com
http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/can-animals-sense-storms-weather/28009496
http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2011/02/22/furry-forecasters-7-amazing-weather-predicting-animals/
Images:
https://photos.smugmug.com
https://elnidoenvironment.files.wordpress.com
http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/
http://www.uh.edu/
http://www.hivesforlives.com/
https://scjdmcdn.azureedge.net
http://turningboholano.blogspot.com/

Blooming daffodils, a songbird at dawn and the warmth of the afternoon sun – spring is coming!

Vernal Equinox, also called “March Equinox” or “Spring Equinox,” marks the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The word equinox is derived from the Latin words aequus (equal) and nox (night).

During equinox, the sun crosses from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere. At some point, the sun shines directly over the earth’s equator, providing each of the earth’s hemispheres with almost the same amount of sunlight. A nearly equal amount of daylight and darkness at all latitudes is a result of the tilting of the Earth’s axis neither toward nor away from the sun.

Equinox means the day and night will be in approximately equal length. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the “nearly” equal hours of day and night are due to the refraction of sunlight or bending of the light’s rays, causing the sun to appear above the horizon when the actual position of the sun is below it.

This event takes place at the same moment across the world. In the Philippines, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said it will happen on March 21 at 6:45 AM in Philippine Standard Time (PST). It occurs when the motion of the sun allows it to pass the first point of Aries, an imaginary location in the sky.

Since we only have two official seasons here, the vernal equinox does not herald spring, but will mark the start of longer number of hours during the day. Because it takes the sun longer to rise and set, days become a little longer at the higher latitudes. According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Gener Quitlong, higher temperatures will begin as we get longer exposure from sun rays.

Spring as seen from space

Fireball Season

Bill Cooke of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said the rate of bright meteors or fireballs increases during the weeks around the vernal equinox. In spring, fireballs are more abundant– the nightly rate reaching 10% to 30% higher than usual. Fireballs are meteors brighter than the planet Venus. Studies have shown that aside from the fireballs, meteorites are also common in spring.

Photo: http://apod.nasa.gov/
Photo Credit: http://apod.nasa.gov/

Aurora Season

Scientists found out that the weeks around the vernal equinox are prone to Northern Lights. The bright dancing lights of the aurora are caused by the collision between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. NASA has deployed a fleet of five spacecraft to study auroras and was named THEMIS (short for “Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms”).

It was discovered that magnetic connections between the Sun and Earth are favorable during springtime. During equinox, the magnetic field of the Earth is best oriented for “connecting” with the sun, giving way for solar wind energy to flow in and spark Northern Lights.

Photo Credit: Jeffrey R. Hapeman of Lac du Flambeau, Wis.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey R. Hapeman of Lac du Flambeau, Wis.

Sources:
PAGASA-DOST
NASA
NOAA
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/31mar_springfireballs/
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/themis/auroras/aurora_live.html#.VQt9rI6UfZE
http://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-spring-vernal-equinox
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq/?n=clifeatures_springequinox
http://www.northernlightscentre.ca/northernlights.html