Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Animals And A Total Eclipse

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Solar System, Earth & Space Science, Earth Systems, Biodiversity, Behavior

Ed Hessler
Total Eclipse And Animals

As you know, on April 8, 2024 there will be a total solar eclipse over North America. The path extends from Mexico, the United States, and Canada. NASA provides a considerable stash of reference material about the "when" and the "where", including great maps.

One place where a closer look at how non-human animals respond will take place at the Fort Worth Zoo. There, scientists will closely observe the behavior of the animals in the zoo.  This is reported in a photoessay from the science and health department of the Associated Press (AP). Lots of photos and a discussion by the scientists involved and a reference to observations made during the 2017 total solar eclipse.

Below is a link you to a scientific paper about behavior of animals during the 2027 total solar eclipse at the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, South Carolina by Adam Hartstone-Rose and six collaborating authors. The paper was published in Animals (Basel), 2020 Apr; 10(4): 587. This link is included in the AP report but you may miss it.

The scientific paper begins with a simple summary, an abstract, which is followed by full access to the study. And if you have interest, the paper is worth a scan on the methodology, which was quite carefully planned. The authors note one failing. They did not do any studies on inter-rater reliability

Some items discussed in the paper include reports on all animals observed during the study, a table showing the possible behaviors looked for, a table on the focal taxa (genus and species), the discussion includes reports of zookeepers from three non-focal taxa the results (extensively discussed), comments on comparisons made by counterparts in the wild (similar to those observed in the zoo setting), important caveats and limitations of the study, future research designs, and the all important findings briefly summarized. Seventy-six percent were "observed to exhibit a behavioral response to the eclipse (which)  suggests a strong potential impact of this meteorological phenomenon on modifying animal activity."
Safety Information On Watching A Total Eclipse
NASA provides information on how to watch a solar eclipse safely.
The Eclipse Path: Total and Partial
And  AP News has a large illustration of the path of totality and paths of the partial totalities: 80%, 60%, 40%, and 20%.
Cloudiness Forecast

Right now it appears that the majority of the totality path - the centerline - across the U.S. favors cloudy skies with the best chance for clear skies in the northeast U.S. 
In the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis our partial eclipse will cover about 74% of the sun. It peaks at 2:02 p.m. on April 8 -- a slight dimming but 74% is not enough to see major darkness during a solar eclipse. 
Information from Paul Huttner, MPR Updraft Blog, April 1, 2024 at 5:20 p.m.

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