Wind farms can cause local climate change
An increase in wind turbines in Texas has caused a rise in local temperatures, researchers have found
WIND FARMS can cause local climate change because the blades of turbines pull warmer air down to ground level at night, researchers have found.
Scientists claim this is the first time anyone has measured how wind turbines can alter local temperatures over a long period. According to the study published in the science journal Nature, wind farms can have "noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate".
Researchers studied an area in west-central Texas, which is now home to the world's four largest wind farms, following a major turbine building programme. The number of turbines soared from 111 in 2003 to 2,325 in 2009, according to the BBC. Using satellite data, researchers found that the temperature around the farms rose by 0.72C in the same period. The whole region apparently saw a rise in temperature but it was more prominent in the areas around the wind farms.
According to The Daily Telegraph, this could have "long-term effects" on wildlife living in the immediate areas of larger wind farms as well as on regional weather patterns.
The impact was largely seen at night, when ground temperatures tend to be cooler. Dr Liming Zhou, the lead researcher from the team based at the State University of New York, explained that the turbine blades mix up warm and cold air, bringing some of the warmth down to ground level.
However, Dr Zhou warned that the statistics only applied to the specific study region and could not be extrapolated to other regions or over longer periods. He added: "For a given wind farm, the warming effect would likely reach a limit rather than continue to increase if no new wind turbines are added."
Dr Zhou and his team say they planned further studies to try and understand "the physical processes and mechanisms" between wind turbines and the atmosphere.