The warmth of wind power--AER senior scientist Lee Miller explains how wind turbines can change local climate

Publish Date:  01 August 2020

Article Source: Physics Today 

Article Link: The warmth of wind power

We will have a lot more wind power in the future — wind power is a scalable approach to reducing carbon emissions and future climate change. However, wind power can also cause changes in the local climate. In his recent article in Physics Today, Dr. Lee Miller of AER used the high-resolution capabilities of NASA’s Landsat 8 thermal sensor to show an example of wind turbines causing a 2-5°C surface warming effect for several kilometers downwind. These warmer surface temperatures are in no way related to climate change, as wind turbines are not adding heat to the Earth system. Instead, wind turbines are redistributing atmospheric heat down to the surface, an effect that was studied as far back as the 1970s to reduce frost severity in orchards (Penn State Extension1971 science article). As the number of wind farms increase, the amount of land affected by this process will increase. Understanding and planning for these types of effects is a critical step to solidifying the goal of a renewable powered future.


For more information contact: Lee Miller