A new study featured in Nature reveals that the presence of wind farms can have a warming effect on local land surface temperatures. The study was based on ground surface temperatures between 2003 and 2011 in Texas, and concluded that warming equated to a rate of 0.72 °C per decade.
Conservative media outlets in the US of course jumped on the new study, claiming that wind farms cause global warming. Fox News even went as far as saying that wind simply “was not working” at the end of its morning show.
But in fact a closer reading of the Liming Zhou’s paper in Nature reveals in fact no causal connection between wind farms and global warming. As usual, it was merely the conservative media distorting science to present its own biased agenda.
The warming effect attributed to wind farms is caused by a redirection of warm air towards the surface. At night time when the sun goes down, the land cools. Although warm air begins to rise at this time, the spinning of a wind turbine directs the warm air back towards the surface. The presence of several wind turbines (as in a wind farm) can therefore create a quantifiable warming effect on local ground surface temperatures.
One would have to actually read the entire paper to understand exactly how wind farms impact local surface temperatures. Unfortunately, the short abstract of the paper (which is what is available free to the public) contains easily misconstrued language, susceptible to spin by America’s media machine.
However, the research does advance our understanding of wind farms and their effects on the environment. This is especially important as wind power becomes an increasingly popular form of clean energy.
What are your thoughts on wind energy? Do you think wind is an effective form of clean energy?
Image CC licensed by Charles Cook: Wind farm