Wind turbines could affect the climate by increasing the ground temperature during the night That’s what researchers has demonstrated over a period of more than nine years studying a region of Texas that counts among the four wind farms largest in the world.

“The surface temperature measured around wind farms in west-central Texas showed a warming of 0.72 ° C over the last decade compared to neighboring regions, no wind, an effect most likely caused by turbulence blades of the turbines at night acting like fans drawing hot air from high altitudes down, “said Somnath Baidya Roy Professor, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and co-author of the study.

The results were published in the journal Nature Climate Change April 29. Professor Zhou and his colleagues studied data from terrestrial ground temperatures ranging from 2003 to 2011, from scientific observation instruments (MODIS – imaging spectrometer for medium resolution) coupled to an embedded system of satellite NASA Terra and Aqua.

Over large areas, the ground temperature is highly dependent on the type of land cover and the nature of the surface. In some places, the ground temperature varies widely during the day and at night when the air temperature does in a smaller proportion.

The warming observed by MODIS took place mostly at night. In the study area in Texas, the ground temperature after sunset usually cools faster than the air temperature. But as the wind continues to turn, brings the movement of warmer air and ground and created a warming effect compared to agricultural areas not equipped with wind turbines. The researchers expected to see the opposite effect during the day – a slight cooling effect – but the data showed instead a slight warming, or a small effect on the day.

“Estimating the warming is specific to this region, and covers a period where wind farms were booming,” said the lead author of the study, Liming Zhou of the University at Albany. “The estimate should not be considered directly applicable to other regions and landscapes, it should not be extrapolated over a longer period of time, where warming was likely to reach a plateau rather than continue to increase especially if no new wind turbine was added. warming is also considered a local effect, and would not affect the climate on a larger scale…”

“This is a first step in exploring the potential of satellite data to quantify the potential impacts of large wind farms on weather and climate,” said Chris Thorncroft, co-author of the study and Chairman of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and Environment at the University of Albany. “We are now expanding this approach with other wind farms and we design models to try to understand the physical processes and mechanisms leading to interactions between the wind and the atmospheric layer near the ground.”

In late 2011, the U.S. wind industry has installed wind capacity of 47,000 megawatts overall close, representing over 20% of global capacity and about 2.9% of all the power of the United States. And just in the last 4 years, the installed wind power capacity increased by over 35%, according to figures provided by the American Association of Wind Energy and the Department of Energy.

“Wind energy will be a part of the solution to climate change, pollution of air and energy security issues,” said Somnath Baidya Roy Pr. “Understanding the impacts of wind farms are essential to developing effective adaptation and strategic management to ensure long term viability of wind energy.”

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