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Anthropogenic Mixing in Seasonally Stratified Shelf Seas by Offshore Wind Farm Infrastructure  

The offshore wind energy sector has rapidly expanded over the past two decades, providing a renewable energy solution for coastal nations. Sector development has been led in Europe, but is growing globally. Most developments to date have been in well-mixed, i.e., unstratified, shallow-waters near to shore. Sector growth is, for the first time, pushing developments to deep water, into a brand new environment: seasonally stratified shelf seas. Seasonally stratified shelf seas, where water density varies with depth, have a disproportionately key role in primary production, marine ecosystem and biogeochemical cycling. Infrastructure will directly mix stratified shelf seas. The magnitude of this mixing, additional to natural background processes, has yet to be fully quantified. If large enough it may erode shelf sea stratification. Therefore, offshore wind growth may destabilize and fundamentally change shelf sea systems. However, enhanced mixing may also positively impact some marine ecosystems. This paper sets the scene for sector development into this new environment, reviews the potential physical and environmental benefits and impacts of large scale industrialization of seasonally stratified shelf seas and identifies areas where research is required to best utilize, manage, and mitigate environmental change.

Robert M. Dorrell1, Charlie J. Lloyd, Energy and Environment Institute, University of Hull, United Kingdom
Ben J. Lincoln, Tom P. Rippeth, Brian D. Scannell, John H. Simpson, School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University, United Kingdom
John R. Taylor, i>Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Colm-cille P. Caulfield, BP Institute, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
Jonathan Sharples, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
Jeff A. Polton, National Oceanography Center, Joseph Proudman Building, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Deborah M. Greaves, i>School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, University of Plymouth, United Kingdom
Rob A. Hall, Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom

Frontiers in Marine Science, 22 March 2022, Volume 9, Article 830927

Download original document: “Anthropogenic Mixing in Seasonally Stratified Shelf Seas by Offshore Wind Farm Infrastructure

This material is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this material resides with the author(s). As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Queries e-mail.

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