Wind speeds over the Southern Ocean have been increasing -- and pushing birds to faster speeds.
Climate change has increased wind speeds, causing many birds to travel faster.
Wandering albatrosses are benefiting from the changes now, with shorter trips, improved breeding, and weight gain.
The benefits may be temporary, because pattern shifts could prevent birds from reaching foraging areas.
Wind speeds over the Southern Ocean have been increasing over the past three decades and those stronger winds are boosting birds in the area to faster flying speeds, according to new research.
The wind speed shift is linked to climate change in the study, which was published in the latest issue of Science. The impact, at least for now, is a boon for certain birds. It shortens the length of their foraging trips, improves their breeding success, and is even causing birds to gain over two pounds in weight.
The scientists focused their study on the wandering albatross, a bird that spends most of its life in flight, touching down on land mostly just to find food or to breed. The windy Crozet islands in the Southern Ocean have been home to one population of such albatrosses for ages. The researchers believe that other birds, like petrels, have been affected by the wind changes too.