|Source: Williams and Laird (2017).|
It turns out the odd pattern is produced by the migration of eared grebes, a waterfowl species that find a home on the Great Salt Lake during fall and early winter to feed on brine shrimp. Estimates suggest there are 1 to 1.5 million of these grebes on the lake during this period.
Augusta and Neil went through 15 winters of radar data, ultimately showing that there are an average of 19 radar-detected eared-grebe migrations each winter, although there is quite a bit of variability from year to year. Migrations typically occur under clear skies and high pressure and become detectable by the radar 30–90 minutes after sunset. Once leaving the Great Salt Lake, the grebes go to wintering habits in Mexico and southern California. They show an example of one event where the grebes are detectable in multiple radars from northern Utah to Yuma, Arizona.
|Source: Williams and Laird (2017)|
My interest in the paper was especially high because we will have a Doppler on Wheels (DOW) radar here in November as part of the Outreach and Radar Education in Orography (OREO) field campaign.
|The newly unveiled OREO logo|
I'll call this birdbrained meteorology. Good work if you can get it.