New Study Shows Wind Farms Raise Local Temperatures

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April 30 2012 1:55 PM

New Study Shows Wind Farms Raise Local Temperatures

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A new study shows wind farms may slightly increase the temperature where they are built. Turbines off the eastern coast of Greece.

Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/GettyImages

Wind power might be touted as an energy source that helps reduce global warming, but a new study says turbines may actually be heating things up—at least at the local level.

Using satellite data, researchers working in Texas have shown that wind farms have created a rise in nighttime ground air temperatures. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, focused on an area in west-central Texas, which has seen a boom in the construction of wind farms in recent years.

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Why is the warming happening? Air further above ground, which tends to be warmer at night, was being brought down to ground level by spinning turbines. 

The rise in temperature--less than one degree Celsius over a decade—would likely stop along with construction. And it's far from the kind of broad climate impact generated by fossil fuel use. But some Texas residents may be sweating a little more at night, so clean wind energy can keep us all a bit cooler. 

 

Video produced by Jim Festante.

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.

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