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Impacts of wind farms on land surface temperature  

Author:  | Environment

[abstract] The wind industry in the United States has experienced a remarkably rapid expansion of capacity in recent years and this fast growth is expected to continue in the future. While converting wind’s kinetic energy into electricity, wind turbines modify surface–atmosphere exchanges and the transfer of energy, momentum, mass and moisture within the atmosphere. These changes, if spatially large enough, may have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate. Here we present observational evidence for such impacts based on analyses of satellite data for the period of 2003–2011 over a region in west-central Texas, where four of the world’s largest wind farms are located. Our results show a significant warming trend of up to 0.72 °C per decade, particularly at night-time, over wind farms relative to nearby non–wind-farm regions. We attribute this warming primarily to wind farms as its spatial pattern and magnitude couples very well with the geographic distribution of wind turbines.

Nature Climate Change 2, pages 539–543 (2012) doi:10.1038/nclimate1505

Download original document: “Impacts of wind farms on land surface temperature

Liming Zhou
Chris Thorncroft
Lance F. Bosart
Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany
Yuhong Tian
I.M. Systems Group, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service/Center for Satellite Applications and Research, Camp Springs, Maryland
Somnath Baidya Roy
Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana
Yuanlong Hu
Terra-Gen Power, San Diego, California

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. Send queries to query/wind-watch.org.

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