Using a convection model to predict altitudes of white stork migration over Central Israel

Judy Shamoun-Baranes*, Olivier Liechti, Yoram Yom-Tov, Yossi Leshem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Soaring migrants such as storks, pelicans and large birds of prey rely on thermal convection during migration. The convection model ALPTHERM was designed to predict the onset, strength, duration and depth of thermal convection for varying topographies for glider pilots, based on atmospheric conditions at midnight. We tested ALPTHERM predictions as configured for two topographies of central Israel, the Coastal Plains and the Judean and Samarian Mountains in order to predict altitudes of migrating white storks (Ciconia ciconia). Migrating flocks of white storks were tracked with a motorized glider, to measure maximum altitudes of migration during spring 2000. A significant positive correlation was found between the maximum daily altitudes of migration measured and the predicted upper boundary of thermal convection for the Coastal Plains and Samarian Mountains. Thirty-minute predictions for the Coastal Plains and Samarian Mountains correlated positively with measured maximum migration altitudes per thermal. ALPTHERM forecasts can be used to alter flight altitudes in both civil and especially military aviation and reduce the hazard of serious aircraft collisions with soaring migrants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-681
Number of pages9
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2003


FundersFunder number
Ministry of Defense Research and Development Directorate-grant


    • Flight safety
    • Israel
    • Migration
    • Soaring
    • Thermal convection
    • White storks


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