Wind Farms Contribute to Rising Temperature

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted April 30, 2012

Could wind turbines be contributing to global climate change?

That’s what some scientists are asking after research from the State University of New York at Albany showed a temperature change around Texas wind farms.

The scientists observed ground temperatures in the area and their changes between 2003 and 2011, and they found an overall shift.

They determined that the areas studied warmed about 0.72° Celsius, or 1.37° Fahrenheit, per decade on average.

This is striking up concern, especially since wind turbines are one of the more popular and faster-growing methods by which to combat emissions from fossil fuels, a big contributing factor to climate change.

It is expected, at the current rate of emissions reduction, that change will be more that 2C this century, a level seen as extremely risky for the future climate.

But researchers say the results of the study are not sufficient to make sweeping generalizations about turbines and their effects.

Liming Zhou, the leader of the study, said it’s not likely the turbines will cause temperatures to rise exponentially:

“For a given wind farm, the warming effect would likely reach a limit rather than continue to increase if no new wind turbines are added.”

The daytime temperatures were not all that changed; but after the sun went down, the ground temperatures stayed warmer around the turbines than in other areas.

Professor Steven Sherwood of the Climate Research Centre at the University of New South Wales commented on this:

“This makes sense, since at night the ground becomes much cooler than the air just a few hundred meters above the surface, and the wind farms generate gentle turbulence near the ground that causes these to mix together, thus the ground doesn’t get quite as cool.  This same strategy is commonly used by fruit growers (who fly helicopters over the orchards rather than windmills) to combat early morning frosts.”

Still, scientists will further research this phenomenon to be sure that it poses no risk of more climate change.  If the temperature increase does continue, it could begin to harm surrounding ecosystems.

That’s all for now,


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