Study Finds Wind Farms Contribute to “Local” Warming

By:  Brian Koenig
05/02/2012
       
Study Finds Wind Farms Contribute to “Local” Warming

Despite being hailed as a leader in "green" innovation, wind farms might cause a warming effect on local climates, concluded a new study released Sunday.

Despite being hailed as a leader in "green" innovation, wind farms might cause a warming effect on local climates, concluded a new study released Sunday. The newfound revelation casts a shadow over the alleged accomplishments of wind power, and will likely ignite controversy among lawmakers and advocacy groups.

Globally, wind farms last year had a 21-percent increase (over 2010) in their capacity to produce electricity, and this capacity is expected to rise further as more, and larger, farms are constructed, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. China is reportedly building 36 wind turbines every day, while Texas holds the rein as the number-one producer of wind power in the United States.

Researchers at the State University of New York at Albany observed satellite data circling areas around wind farms in Texas, where four of the largest farms in the world are stationed. The researchers’ data, published in the Nature Climate Change journal, uncovered a warming trend of up to 0.72 degrees Celsius per decade — using data from 2003 to 2011 — in regions over the wind farms, compared with nearby areas without farms.

In contrast, scientists report that the Earth’s average temperature has increased by only 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1900.

"We attribute this warming primarily to wind farms," reported the study’s authors, which is likely due to the impact of the energy discharged by farms, as well as the turbulence ignited by turbine rotors. "These changes, if spatially large enough, may have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate."

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