Seabird species may be at risk for collision with, or displacement by, offshore wind turbines. Existing seabird distribution models describe the density and species composition in the California Current, and are used to identify hot spots for seabird activity. However, these models do not describe the three-dimensional distribution of flight behavior above the sea surface. Understanding flight height is key to accurately modeling the risk of direct interactions between seabirds and offshore wind turbines, and is the focus of our latest offshore wind feasibility study.
Seabird flight height is known to vary as a function of species and wind speed — so this study will integrate data-driven existing 2D species distribution models, species-specific seabird flight heights as a function of wind speed, and the latest wind resource data, to make a 3D probability map of seabirds in space. This will allow us to model the risk of different turbine designs and power outputs, for locations offshore California and southern Oregon.