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Can large wind farms affect local meteorology?

Abstract: The RAMS model was used to explore the possible impacts of a large wind farm in the Great Plains region on the local meteorology over synoptic timescales under typical summertime conditions. A wind turbine was approximated as a sink of energy and source of turbulence. The wind farm was created by assuming an array of such turbines. Results show that the wind farm significantly slows down the wind at the turbine hub-height level. Additionally, turbulence generated by rotors create eddies that can enhance vertical mixing of momentum, heat, and scalars, usually leading to a warming and drying of the surface air and reduced surface sensible heat flux. This effect is most intense in the early morning hours when the boundary layer is stably stratified and the hub-height level wind speed is the strongest due to the nocturnal low-level jet. The impact on evapotranspiration is small.

S. Baidya Roy, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, S. W. Pacala, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, and R. L. Walko, Department of Civil Engineering, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 109, D19101, doi:10.1029/2004JD004763, 2004

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