Wind farms lift the temperature in their region

Apr 30, 2012
A wind farm in South Australia

Wind turbines can modify the local climate by warming the atmosphere, according to a study that revealed an increase in temperature of 0.72 degrees over a region of Texas where four large wind farms have been built.

While converting the of wind into electricity, modify exchanges between the ground and atmosphere, and affect the transfer of energy, momentum, mass and moisture within the air, the authors of the study said.

They analysed from 2003 to 2011 over a region in west-central Texas where four of the world’s largest are home to more than 2,350 turbines.

Most were built between 2005 and 2008, allowing the researchers to assess the difference between a scenario with the smallest impact on the local and a scenario with the greatest.

Their findings are published today in the journal Nature .

“Our results show a significant warming trend of up to 0.72 degree per decade, particularly at night-time, over wind farms relative to nearby non-wind-farm regions,” wrote lead author Liming Zhou, a Research Associate Professor from the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at University at Albany. “We attribute this warming primarily to wind farms as its spatial pattern and magnitude couples very well with the geographic distribution of wind turbines.”

The temperature at night-time in summer increased by 0.46 degree over the same period.

Although the increase in temperatures could be attributed in some part to heat generated by the turbine footprint – the turbine blades, towers, access roads and so on – the footprint took up only a small percentage of the land area of wind farms, the researchers said.

Instead, it was likely that variations in wind speed, as well as fluctuations stirred up by turbines in the low part of the atmosphere, were largely responsible for the change. “The stronger wind speeds in [winter] than [summer] and at night-time than daytime … probably drive wind turbines to generate more electricity and turbulence and consequently result in the strongest warming effect at night-time in [winter].”

Professor Steven Sherwood, co-director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, said the findings “show that night-time temperatures went up by about 0.5 degree in the summer where the wind farm is. Daytime temperatures do not appear to be affected.

“This makes sense, since at night the ground becomes much cooler than the air just a few hundred meters above the surface, and the wind farms generate gentle turbulence near the ground that causes these to mix together, thus the ground doesn’t get quite as cool. This same strategy is commonly used by fruit growers, who fly helicopters over the orchards rather than windmills, to combat early morning frosts.”

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More information: DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1505

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User comments : 53

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Drjsa_oba
3.2 / 5 (13) Apr 30, 2012
I can foresee a possible byline heading. "Contribute to Global Warming - Use Wind Power."
EWM
3.3 / 5 (12) Apr 30, 2012
I have said the obvious from the beginning: wind and other "free" energy ISN'T FREE -- it's doing something and we want to DIVERT it. And now we know a little more -- natural winds are less turbulent, and they keep the ground cooler and air above it warmer. Here's another obvious fact: most forms of energy involve or devolve into THERMAL energy. Consider the car: exhaust, radiator, brakes, aero drag, etc ... even its sounds devolve into friction/heat.
kochevnik
Apr 30, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Lurker2358
3 / 5 (8) Apr 30, 2012
EWM:

YOu are correct, and I've point out the friction thing in the past my own self.

But you must realize any warming caused by wind turbines is only local, and isn't a big deal. Much of this effect is actually just mixing warm layers with cool layers, which skews the surface observation.

In reality, since wind is caused by temperature differences, and since the turbine converts wind energy to electricity, the turbine actually produces a net global cooling of the atmosphere as a whole. It must, since it extracts energy and converts it to electricity. If nothing else, some of this electricity is converted to visible light in bulbs and LEDS and escapes into space, producing net cooling of the planet.

Friction can't convert any more mechanical energy back to heat than the amount of heat that was originally there, which means wind turbines cannot produce a net warming effect. They can only produce a localized warming effect through mixing.
joefarah
1.8 / 5 (16) Apr 30, 2012
So let's see. Wind power:
1) Contributes to Global Warming
2) Kills an enormous number of birds each year
3) Large up front cost in materials and contruction
4) Eye sore and significant low frequency noise pollution

But, at least it's renewable!
Vendicar_Decarian
0.8 / 5 (46) Apr 30, 2012
You aren't bright enough to comprehend the article.

"1) Contributes to Global Warming" - JoeTard

You illustrate why it is necessary to educate American workers with comic books and cartoons.

Pathetic.

You might try reading Lurker's comments. He has good reading comprehension and some scientific savvy.
NotParker
1.9 / 5 (16) Apr 30, 2012
" the turbine actually produces a net global cooling of the atmosphere as a whole"

If you add up the raw materials, money, concrete and energy squandered I think it is a massive increase in bull**** ... just like your blather.
Origin
2 / 5 (8) Apr 30, 2012
IMO the recent sultriness and droughts in Texas may be caused just with widespread application of wind farms, which prohibit the natural circulation of atmospheric water. The trick is, just a weak hydrodynamic resistance could inhibit the natural formation of convective cells over the Texas, thus bringing the droughts into inland. Such a "green energy" could become very expensive, after then.
NotParker
1.8 / 5 (14) Apr 30, 2012
VD admits he isn't bright enough to comprehend the article.


As usual.
kaasinees
2.1 / 5 (11) Apr 30, 2012
Wind mills turns wind energy into electricity that way it extracts the heat from the atmosphere.
As said before in the comments the windmill causes mixing of layers and that skews temperature data.
How in the world does a moving piece of alloy ADD heat into the atmosphere?
Any basic science teaching like thermodynamics goes far...
NotParker
1.8 / 5 (10) Apr 30, 2012
How in the world does a moving piece of alloy ADD heat into the atmosphere?


The blade drags warm air at night down to the ground warming the ground.

You should read the article.
kaasinees
2.5 / 5 (11) Apr 30, 2012
How in the world does a moving piece of alloy ADD heat into the atmosphere?


The blade drags warm air at night down to the ground warming the ground.

You should read the article.

And that causes the sensors to be screwed up right, got it.
In fact it allows more heat to be radiated into space when there is no cloud cover.
islatas
3 / 5 (6) Apr 30, 2012
Hang on a second. Wind turbines don't 'stir' the air. They divert the air that is moving across them. The air moves them, not the other way around. Turbines do divert the air in a predictable and controlled way which is how they generate power. This study should be launched to compared the effects of diverted air by other tall man-made structures (buildings, antenna arrays), biological (trees), and geological (bluffs, cliffs, buttes, etc.) and compare the impacts. What happened to the temps in an area where a forest grew in the last 50 years? How about areas that were recently deforested? How about in any of the Southwest US young and tall cities vs 20 years ago? Dubai or Abu Dhabi in 2000 vs today? So focused, this articles just reads as a smear.
kaasinees
2.2 / 5 (10) Apr 30, 2012
Yup thats right, the mass killing of biodiversity by massive deforestation kills the shade of the soil, kills off the healthy soil ecology etc. ofcourse the regional temperatures rise because of that.
SteveL
2.6 / 5 (5) Apr 30, 2012
You might try reading Lurker's comments. He has good reading comprehension and some scientific savvy. - Vendicar Decarian

Oh my, an incredibly rare sight. Was that an actual complement directed towards another poster? Quick Lurker2358 - go buy a lotto ticket while the fates smile upon you.
SteveL
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 30, 2012
I read another article about this report indicating that cloud cover could be skewing the satellite data used for this study. By how much wasn't indicated.
NotParker
1.7 / 5 (11) Apr 30, 2012

And that causes the sensors to be screwed up right, got it.
In fact it allows more heat to be radiated into space when there is no cloud cover.


Actually it supposedly moves the warm down to the ground at night.

According to satellites.

They do alter the weather around them.

"Clouds stream in the wake of wind turbines arrayed at the Horns Rev offshore wind farm"

http://www.popsci...eir-wake

NotParker
1.7 / 5 (11) Apr 30, 2012
Hang on a second. Wind turbines don't 'stir' the air.


Yes they do ...

http://www.popsci...eir-wake
nkalanaga
4 / 5 (4) Apr 30, 2012
They don't "stir" the air in the sense of a spoon stirring a cup of coffee, which is "active stirring". They definitely create turbulence, which increases vertical and horizontal mixing, which qualifies as "passive stirring". In either case the fluid is mixed, the difference is the source of the energy to do the stirring.
julianpenrod
1.8 / 5 (10) Apr 30, 2012
I've pointed this out many times in the past. The energy turbines capture is the kinetic energy of the moving air. But, if moving air loses kinetic energy, it stops moving as quickly. Numerous times, when turbine power was mentioned in the recent past, I posted comments about how wind downrange from turbines was less than it was before. I pointed out that wind distributes seeds and controls the flow of heat in a region. But, repeatedly, the only respoinse I got was the characteristic New World Order dismissal, arrogance, contempt, viciousness, mockery, vulgarity.
Telekinetic
2.3 / 5 (6) Apr 30, 2012
"Again, among other things, converting wind into energy means removing the energy of some wind, and that means removing wind, so air movement downwind of the farm will be lessened. And that is likely to have a serious effect on environment all around."- julianpenrod 2/11/12

Yes, you WERE absolutely correct about windmills having an environmental effect, but you were absolutely wrong about the "serious" effect on the environment all around.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Apr 30, 2012
Let's see if we can come up with a mechanism, here

Hypothesis:
1) Wind farms don't generate the heat that is being measured.
2) Wind farms do slow down the airflow.
3) Stagnant air masses have less heat exchange with other air masses above them.

Air is (relatively) more stagnant downwind from windfarms than in non-windfarm regions (though windfarms are generally situated in higher wind regions to begin with. A 0.72C increase doesn't autmatically mean that these regions are, on average, hotter than others). With less heat exchange this means that other regions are cooler, since the total energy input warming the air is constant (solar radiation).

Conclusion: Is there a heating problem? If at all it is only local and offset elsewhere.
nkalanaga
1 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2012
I agree with both your reasoning and conclusions. Air is generally heated by contact with the ground. If the air is stagnant, it will reach equilibrium with the ground quicker, and transfer that heat to other places more slowly. And, as you said, wind farms are in naturally windy areas, meaning that they were previously cooled by the wind. If it doesn't blow as hard, the immediate area will stay warmer. Any areas downwind will receive less transferred heat, and will likely be cooler than before. The global average won't be affected, as the total energy input (sunlight) and loss (radiation to space) is unchanged.
NotParker
1 / 5 (5) Apr 30, 2012
The global average won't be affected, as the total energy input (sunlight) and loss (radiation to space) is unchanged.


I think photos of wind turbines creating clouds proves you wrong.

http://www.youtub...kvF51p1U

It does depend on time of day. Clouds in the daytime can reflect sunlight. Clouds at night can trap heat and prevent it from radiating away to space.

packrat
1 / 5 (3) Apr 30, 2012
Just out of curiosity, How much heat is generated by the friction of the air moving over the surface of the blades. I doubt it would be much but it would add a little to the downstream air temp. Anyone have an idea?
NotParker
1.5 / 5 (8) May 01, 2012
"In a paper published online Feb. 22 in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Wang and Prinn suggest that using wind turbines to meet 10 percent of global energy demand in 2100 could cause temperatures to rise by one degree Celsius in the regions on land where the wind farms are installed, including a smaller increase in areas beyond those regions. Their analysis indicates the opposite result for wind turbines installed in water: a drop in temperatures by one degree Celsius over those regions."

"...wind turbines on land reduced wind speed, particularly on the downwind side of the wind farms, which reduced the strength of the turbulent motion and horizontal heat transport processes. This resulted in less heat being transported to the upper parts of the atmosphere, as well as to other regions farther away from the wind farms."

http://web.mit.ed...omy.html
kaasinees
1.4 / 5 (9) May 01, 2012
Conclusion: Is there a heating problem? If at all it is only local and offset elsewhere.

And this in turn makes more air flow(hot to cold areas) and thus there is no heating problem but the sensors are screwed up because of the hotter air moving downwards for a moment.
NotParker
1 / 5 (5) May 01, 2012
Conclusion: Is there a heating problem? If at all it is only local and offset elsewhere.

And this in turn makes more air flow(hot to cold areas) and thus there is no heating problem but the sensors are screwed up because of the hotter air moving downwards for a moment.


The MIT paper I referenced suggests: "This resulted in less heat being transported to the upper parts of the atmosphere"

If the air from higher up is transported to the ground by the wind turbine and warms the ground instead of radiates to space, there is net warming.
kaasinees
2.2 / 5 (11) May 01, 2012
If the air from higher up is transported to the ground by the wind turbine and warms the ground instead of radiates to space, there is net warming.

Doesnt work that way does it? You need a medium (clouds) to radiate any significant amount into space.

Also if it truly transports warmer air to the ground than it also transports colder air to the upper region and than the warmer air rises again somewhere else.

Most likely the air is mixed around the mills which is not bad at all.
kaasinees
2.3 / 5 (12) May 01, 2012
It just means that the sensors give a warmer temperature around windmills.
Wind mills do not create any greenhouse effect nor do they add heat to the atmosphere.

They extract heat by turning kinetic motion into electricity.
Shakescene21
4 / 5 (4) May 01, 2012
OK, so wind farms alter the micro-climate in their vicinity. I have been to coal-fired power plants, and they also effect the mico-environment.

With coal plants you also have warmer micro-climate, unless the soot and steam block the sun. You also have air pollution, particulates, CO2, truck traffic, and defoliation. This doesn't even include degradation caused by coal mining and the coal trains.
NotParker
1 / 5 (6) May 01, 2012
If the air from higher up is transported to the ground by the wind turbine and warms the ground instead of radiates to space, there is net warming.

Doesnt work that way does it? You need a medium (clouds) to radiate any significant amount into space.


Clouds at night prevent the ground radiating to space.

You really should read the MIT paper. And quit embarrassing yourself.
kaasinees
1.8 / 5 (10) May 01, 2012
Clouds at night prevent the ground radiating to space.

You really should read the MIT paper. And quit embarrassing yourself.

Oh jolly you got one fact straight, now start learning about the rest of 99% of climate science.
NotParker
1 / 5 (6) May 01, 2012
Coal plants don't take up too much space.

"The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that it will take 241 GW of terrestrial based wind development on approximately 5 million hectares to reach 20% electricity production for the U.S. by 2030"

http://www.ploson....0017566

5,000,000 hectares = 19,300 square miles.

Bigger than Maryland, smaller than West Virginia.

NotParker
1 / 5 (8) May 01, 2012
Clouds at night prevent the ground radiating to space.

You really should read the MIT paper. And quit embarrassing yourself.

Oh jolly you got one fact straight, now start learning about the rest of 99% of climate science.


I was quite sure I get all my facts straight. You just regurgitate propaganda that turns out to be wrong all the time.
Eletruk
1 / 5 (2) May 02, 2012
@Drjsa_oba: Wow, you must be psychic! Fox News did just that!

Vendicar_Decarian
0.7 / 5 (40) May 03, 2012
From ParkerTard's reference

"Wind energy offers the potential to reduce carbon emissions while increasing energy independence and bolstering economic development"

He seems to be arguing against his own long held position.

Laughable. Does he even have enough awareness left to keep track of his own non stop stream on kooktard nonsense?

NotParker
1 / 5 (6) May 03, 2012
From ParkerTard's reference

"Wind energy offers the potential to reduce carbon emissions while increasing energy independence and bolstering economic development"



Potential is not reality.

Cheap natural gas from shale is reality.

Methane Hydrates are potential.

The reality today is tha the UK has spent 100s of billions of pounds on Wind, and will be subsidizing wind with 20 billion pounds a year or more.

And all they get is .5% of their power most of the time.

http://www.gridwa...r.co.uk/

Wind is grotesquely expensive and unreliable.
NotParker
1 / 5 (6) May 03, 2012
Renewables destroying Germany's Power Grid:

"Especially in southern Germany energy security is at risk, according to Kretschmann. Germany is heavily dependent on flexible gas power plants to compensate for intermittent green energy. At the same time, however, the green energy boom is having a fatal side effect: Because the production of wind and solar power have been given priority in the electricity market, the building of gas-fired power plants is no longer profitable. Often, it does not even pay to maintain existing power plants. Analysts at Goldman Sachs are already warning of a large-scale demise of power plants in 2013. Grid operators, on the other hand, fear nothing more than the loss of additional power plants in southern Germany, which is particularly affected by the nuclear phase-out."

http://thegwpf.or...ies.html
kaasinees
1.8 / 5 (10) May 03, 2012
I would hardly trust a source that took 1 trillon dollar advantage of the collapsing housing market. Lied to Europe about the debt of Greece, and committed default credit swap fraud.

Anyway, good news for the citizens and their health, abolish those coal plants!
NotParker
1 / 5 (6) May 03, 2012
I would hardly trust a source that took 1 trillon dollar advantage of the collapsing housing market. Lied to Europe about the debt of Greece, and committed default credit swap fraud.

Anyway, good news for the citizens and their health, abolish those coal plants!


The article is about gas plants.

And the future of any country stupid enough to squander hundreds of billions on renewables.

"Every year 600,000 households (2 million people) are getting their power switched off in Germany because they cant afford the skyrocketing electric bills."

http://notrickszo...nnually/

"38% of families hit by 'transport poverty'"

http://money.aol....L_1_link

"Number of people in fuel poverty will reach eight million by 2016"
http://www.dailym...n-people
kaasinees
1.8 / 5 (10) May 03, 2012
And you think this is because of renewable energy?

You are very delusional or a liar.
NotParker
1 / 5 (5) May 03, 2012
And you think this is because of renewable energy?


The story says Green Taxes are killing 2,700 people a year.

"A Government-commissioned study earlier this year warned that more than 2,700 people are dying each year in England and Wales because they cannot afford to keep their homes warm."

"One in four households will struggle to keep warm this winter because of costlier gas and electricity and the impact of green taxes, figures out today show."

http://www.dailym...ies.html
MandoZink
3 / 5 (6) May 03, 2012
The story says Green Taxes are killing 2,700 people a year.

The only connection that any Green Taxes had to the story was this actual quote from the Daily Mail:

"The study by social policy expert Professor John Hills, of the London School of Economics, concluded that green taxes on household power bills have a disproportionate impact on poorer homes."

They did NOT even come close to blaming deaths on taxes.

Not to mention this story came from the newspaper that won the "2011 Orwellian Prize for Journalistic Misrepresentation" for having the "the worst misrepresentation of a scientific article in a national newspaper" according the award presenters.

On a separate note, I really did appreciate the photo link you posted showing the condensation streaming off of the wind turbines. It graphically illustrated effects obviously occurring there.
NotParker
1 / 5 (4) May 04, 2012

"The study by social policy expert Professor John Hills, of the London School of Economics, concluded that green taxes on household power bills have a disproportionate impact on poorer homes."


And 2,700 people are dying because energy is too expensive.

Just because you agree that slaughtering old people is ok, doesn't mean it is.

Fuel poverty is real. Artificially and unnecessarily increasing the cost of energy for the poor is EVIL.
antialias_physorg
4.2 / 5 (5) May 04, 2012
Fuel poverty is real.

and you think gas/oil prices will remain where they are? Have you looked at the development in the last few years of those prices? Power from alternative powerplants won't become more expensive (if anything it'll get cheaper with time). If we stuck to the current ways the fuel poverty would hit REALLY hard down the road.

The 'problem' in gemany is that the large power companies tried to sit out the coalition that stopped nuclear. They were hoping the conservatives would reverse that decision as soon as the regained power (which they did - but Fukushima happened 3 months later so public pressure forced them to reversed the reversal)

Point being: The large power companies did nothing to modernize the grid in all that time - even though they were obliged to. They were counting on conservatives to get back in bed with them. Tough luck.
NotParker
1 / 5 (6) May 04, 2012
Fuel poverty is real.

and you think gas/oil prices will remain where they are?


Natural Gas prices in the US are significantly lower than they were a few years ago.

When the UK is allowed to actually drill for shale gas, their prices will drop as well.

Coal, Nuclear and Gas provide over 95% of UK electricity. The problem is the grotesque squandering of hundreds of billions on wind.

NotParker
1 / 5 (6) May 04, 2012
Power from alternative powerplants won't become more expensive (if anything it'll get cheaper with time)


They've been saying that about wind for 30 years. It wasn't true. And still isn't true. Only massive subsidies that punish the poor allow land owners and wind pimps to make money. Everyone else loses.
NotParker
1 / 5 (5) May 04, 2012

Point being: The large power companies did nothing to modernize the grid in all that time - even though they were obliged to. They were counting on conservatives to get back in bed with them. Tough luck.


But massive subsidies were being thrown away on wind and solar skewing the market.

Gas was doomed. Official policy said so.

Why invest in a dead (but extremely necessary) technology when idiot greens and politicians and eco-morons insisted that wind and solar could carry the load?

Squandering 100s of billions of Euros on wind and solar was economic suicide.

antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (4) May 04, 2012
Natural Gas prices in the US are significantly lower than they were a few years ago.

And you think this will remain so? With endless supplies of gas coming from...where exactly? Not to mention that someone will have to pay for all the damage done by climate change due to fossil fuels (taxpayers).

Continuing to use fossil fuels is extremely short sighted. It's maneuvering yourself into a corner which you have no way out of.

They've been saying that about wind for 30 years. It wasn't true.

Adding all ancillary costs (environmental damage, waste disposal, etc) wind is already cheaper than oil, on a par with gas and WAY cheaper than nuclear.

Squandering 100s of billions of Euros on wind and solar was economic suicide.

30 bn (all alternatives combined). Up to and including the feed in tarrifs in the future.
Coal has gotten 200bn. So has nuclear.

And alternatives are already providing as much electricity as nuclear ever did. So what is more efficient here?

kochevnik
3 / 5 (7) May 04, 2012
Natural Gas prices in the US are significantly lower than they were a few years ago.
Sure, at the cost of permanently poisoning the US drinking water supply. Besides most of that gas is exported, meaning the wealth is being stripped of future resources to line the pockets of a handful of billionaires.
NotParker
1 / 5 (4) May 04, 2012
Natural Gas prices in the US are significantly lower than they were a few years ago.
Sure, at the cost of permanently poisoning the US drinking water supply. Besides most of that gas is exported, m


The whole supply??? Can you name one water supply poisoned?

20% or more of US gas comes from shale gas.

Is the water undrinkable in Texas? Pennsylvania? Lousiana? All of it?

Why haven't I heard?

The US exports no gas yet. Some companies are turning the LNG import terminals to export terminals.

The US still imports gas from Canada on long term contract because pipelines already existed and US pipeline capacity has not caught up yet.
NotParker
1 / 5 (4) May 04, 2012
Natural Gas prices in the US are significantly lower than they were a few years ago.

And you think this will remain so?


Yes. There is such a big surplus of gas they are almost giving it away.

"a key problem in North America is that despite falling rig counts, the productivity of gas extraction is becoming so efficient that however hard people are trying to cut back production, new techniques keep increasing it.

The big problem of natural gas discussed in Fort Worth at DUG last week was how to build demand. Several speakers saw no hope of any gas prices increases until at at least 2015. They were the optimists."

http://www.nohotair.co.uk/
NotParker
1 / 5 (5) May 04, 2012
30 bn


"A rush to green energy by spending billions covering much of the countryside with wind turbines would be an expensive blunder, a damning study has found.

Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University said the massive programme will cost consumers £120billion by 2020 through higher bills.

This is almost ten times more than the £13billion it would cost to generate the same amount of electricity from efficient gas-fired power stations, according to the leading energy and environment economist."

http://www.dailym...ers.html