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Wind Farms, Climate Change Connection Lukewarm At Best

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View of a wind farm in Texas (Photograph by fieldsbh/Flickr)

A study released yesterday by researchers finds that large wind farms may affect local temperatures, noting a night warming effect in certain areas in Texas caused by “the turbulence in turbine wakes acting like fans to pull down warmer near surface air from higher altitudes at night.” As Natural Resources Defense Council already pointed out, select media outlets covering this study have generated bad headlines that conflate “small-scale, local impacts on nighttime land surface temperatures and global climate disruption.”

To offer some clarity on the subject, the researchers behind the original study have released a detailed Q&A addressing concerns. As Media Matters points out, the scientists basically debunk what they termed “misleading” coverage of the study. Other media outlets, such as Christian Science Monitor and Washington Post, also call into question how the study is being characterized.

Check out the researchers’ Q&A for more details, but here is the net take away:  Very likely, the wind turbines do not create a net warming of the air and instead only redistribute the air’s heat from above to near the surface (that is, the turbine itself does not generate any heat). This is fundamentally different from the large-scale warming effect caused by increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.

–Nino Marchetti

This post originally appeared at EarthTechling and was republished with permission.