Visualizing Avian migration across Norway supporting sustainable coastal and offshore wind energy development (VisAviS) 

Mapping avian migratory flyways in Norway to support (strategic) environmental impact assessments, coastal and offshore wind-power plant siting with minimal costs for Life on land, and Blue Growth in general. 

The project will bring state-of-the-art knowledge on migratory flyway patterns to new dimensions and will provide the springboard for developing a dynamic visualization tool to spatially assess migration in near-real time to allow for timely responses to mitigate impacts of coastal and offshore wind energy development.

VisAviS will provide regulators, developers and other stakeholders with robust and transparent analytical tools that can be industrialized and implemented without delay, and facilitate the licensing and subsequent phases of a wind energy project.

The Robin Radar MAX radar system.


Roel May
Senior Research Scientist, NINA

Project info

Project title: Visualizing Avian migration across Norway supporting sustainable coastal and offshore wind energy development (VisAviS)

Timeframe: 2023-2026 

Funding: The Research Council of Norway


  • 1 PhD
  • At least 7 peer-reviewed articles
  • 1 online visualization application
  • 3 annual status reports
  • 1 final summarizing report
  • 1 final seminar

Project partners

R&D partners:

NINA, University of Amsterdam, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, BirdLife Norway

Industry partners:

Equinor Energy, RWE Renewables, Fred. Olsen Seawind, Ørsted, Hafslund Eco, Mainstream Renewable Power, Vårgrønn, Total Energies, Iberdrola, Norsk Havvind, Deep Wind Offshore, Norwegian Offshore Wind Cluster (in-kind), Offshore Norge (in-kind)

Government (in-kind):

Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, Norwegian Environmental Agency

Mapping bird migration in time and space 

One major potential cumulative conflict between coastal and offshore wind energy development and wildlife arises from the large numbers of migrating birds crossing the North Sea and passing along the elongated Norwegian coastline twice a year between breeding and wintering areas. Although investigation of migratory flyways and risk assessments for migrating birds are supposed to be a part of environmental impact assessments, these are generally lacking or carried out poorly due to a lack of knowledge on migratory flyways, and therefore generally neglected in cumulative effect assessments by authorities. 

Because of the fast rate of offshore wind-power development it will be paramount to provide the required knowledge on seasonal migration patterns and movement patterns of birds to identify high-risk sites and forewarn operators. Such knowledge, and spatially explicit visualization of thereof, will also be able to identify particularly important areas that should be safeguarded from development. 

Mapping bird migration in time and space will thus be important to reduce conflicts with wildlife, as well as ensure a more environmentally friendly location of wind-power plants. In addition, it is absolutely necessary to ensure a sufficient quality of impact assessments before development.

Radar technology

VisAviS will use the latest radar technology to map migratory routes across Norway and adjacent seas. At the same time, the project will have the potential to develop a dynamic visualization application for spatial assessment of bird migration in near-real time so that measures to mitigate negative impacts can be implemented. 

Societal and industrial impact

  • Updated spatially explicit data on bird migration for environmental impact assessments, risk assessments and mitigation planning
  • Delineation of bird migration corridors to identify potential conflict areas for wind energy development onshore as well as offshore, and Blue Growth in general (e.g. avoidance areas, mitigation areas, no-risk areas)
  • Early-warning potential for mitigation actions at offshore structures (e.g. smart curtailment, dimming lights)

Work packages

WP1. Mapping major migration flyways

Extracting bird intensities from meteorological radar systems in Norway and merging these to provide an integrated map of the major migration patterns. Bird algorithms developed by our research partner UvA have been implemented for Norwegian meteorological radars, which allows near-real time visualization of bird migration and spatio-temporal pattern analysis.

WP2. Assessing migration behaviour

Analyse migration behaviour patterns from mobile radar systems onshore and offshore. NINA has two mobile 3D bird radars that can be operated at the two latter sites during spring and autumn over two years (2023-2024). This will allow both local validation of the large-scale meteorological radar bird migration intensities as well as in-depth analysis of behavioural migration patterns (e.g. fluxes and flight height with respect to weather conditions and topography).

WP3. Validation of species-specific phenology

Assess departure and arrival times of migratory birds through the Lista Bird migration Observatory in collaboration with BirdLife Norway as well as citizen science data. While the latter allows for dynamic visualization of bird migration across Norway, both data sources combined will render more insight into the specific-specific phenology of bird migration (e.g. which species migrate when, where and how).

WP4. Produce a migration visualization application

Combine the visualizations and associated knowledge on migration patterns into an online visualization application to support developers and authorities supporting environmentally friendly coastal and offshore wind energy development. This application will be co-designed and disseminated with our stakeholder partners. This includes the integration of previous work packages to quantify and map potential risk, by combining migration intensity (cf. risk exposure, WP1), area suitability and stopover sites (cf. risk likelihood, WP3) and migration behaviour (cf. species vulnerability, WP2).