« | »

Wind Power May Need Global Warming

From the Gaia worshippers at Associated Press:

Not so windy: Research suggests winds dying down

By Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer Wed Jun 10

WASHINGTON – The wind, a favorite power source of the green energy movement, seems to be dying down across the United States. And the cause, ironically, may be global warming — the very problem wind power seeks to address.

The idea that winds may be slowing is still a speculative one, and scientists disagree whether that is happening. But a first-of-its-kind study suggests that average and peak wind speeds have been noticeably slowing since 1973, especially in the Midwest and the East.

"It’s a very large effect," said study co-author Eugene Takle, a professor of atmospheric science at Iowa State University. In some places in the Midwest, the trend shows a 10 percent drop or more over a decade. That adds up when the average wind speed in the region is about 10 to 12 miles per hour.

There’s been a jump in the number of low or no wind days in the Midwest, said the study’s lead author, Sara Pryor, an atmospheric scientist at Indiana University.

Wind measurements plotted out on U.S. maps by Pryor show wind speeds falling mostly along and east of the Mississippi River. Some areas that are banking on wind power, such as west Texas and parts of the Northern Plains, do not show winds slowing nearly as much. Yet, states such as Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia, northern Maine and western Montana show some of the biggest drop in wind speeds…

Still, the study, which will be published in August in the peer-reviewed Journal of Geophysical Research, is preliminary. There are enough questions that even the authors say it’s too early to know if this is a real trend or not. But it raises a new side effect of global warming that hasn’t been looked into before.

The ambiguity of the results is due to changes in wind-measuring instruments over the years, according to Pryor. And while actual measurements found diminished winds, some climate computer models — which are not direct observations — did not, she said.

Yet, a couple of earlier studies also found wind reductions in Australia and Europe, offering more comfort that the U.S. findings are real, Pryor and Takle said.

It also makes sense based on how weather and climate work, Takle said. In global warming, the poles warm more and faster than the rest of the globe, and temperature records, especially in the Arctic, show this. That means the temperature difference between the poles and the equator shrinks and with it the difference in air pressure in the two regions. Differences in barometric pressure are a main driver in strong winds. Lower pressure difference means less wind.

Even so, that information doesn’t provide the definitive proof that science requires to connect reduced wind speeds to global warming, the authors said. In climate change science, there is a rigorous and specific method — which looks at all possible causes and charts their specific effects — to attribute an effect to global warming. That should be done eventually with wind, scientists say

One of the problems Pryor acknowledges with her study is that over many years, changing conditions near wind-measuring devices can skew data. If trees grow or buildings are erected near wind gauges, that could reduce speed measurements.

Several outside experts mostly agree that there are signs that wind speed is decreasing and that global warming is the likely culprit.

The new study "demonstrates, rather conclusively in my mind, that average and peak wind speeds have decreased over the U.S. in recent decades," said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University

But another expert, Jonathan Miles, of James Madison University, said a 10 percent reduction in wind speeds over a decade "would have an enormous effect on power production."

Pryor said a 10 percent change in peak winds would translate into a 30 percent change in how much energy is reaped. But because the research is in such early stages, she said, "at this point it would be premature to modify wind energy development plans." …

So, according to these lights, wind power will destroy wind power.

So much for it being renewable.

Isn’t irony ironic?

Even so, that information doesn’t provide the definitive proof that science requires to connect reduced wind speeds to global warming, the authors said. In climate change science, there is a rigorous and specific method — which looks at all possible causes and charts their specific effects — to attribute an effect to global warming.

Oh, our sides.

What need have Global Warming believers of proof?

One of the problems Pryor acknowledges with her study is that over many years, changing conditions near wind-measuring devices can skew data. If trees grow or buildings are erected near wind gauges, that could reduce speed measurements.

Funny, they never mention such things when talking about global warming – which is often the result of sensors being put too close to parking lots.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, June 10th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “Wind Power May Need Global Warming”

  1. proreason says:

    Here’s a better idea for renewable energy.

    Hook these jack-off scientists directly to transformers.

    The up-and-down hand motion has got to create enough energy to power multiple planets.

    • JohnMG says:

      Just a question. Are we talking ultra-high-frequency here pro, or merely 60 cycles per second? You know, the power that runs your toaster.

  2. Right of the People says:

    Pro, how about putting a politician behind everyone of the windmills? That should provide enough wind to keep them spinning.

  3. pdsand says:

    I always said the “green jobs” they talk about all the time was going to be people to spin the windmills by hand when the wind isn’t blowing.

  4. jobeth says:

    “Funny, they never mention such things when talking about global warming – which is often the result of sensors being put too close to parking lots.”

    Or directly in line with the back end of jet engines at the airport…

  5. b-rex says:

    The article actually blames global warming for decreased wind, but it should be worth noting for reasoning why alternative means of power generation, such as nuclear, should be used.

  6. BigOil says:

    Reminds me of my vacation in California just before the election. I was driving with my wife through the San Joaquin valley towards San Jose when I noticed the hillside covered with literally hundreds of windmills – and not a single blade was turning. I proceded to bust out laughing. When my wife asked me what I was laughing at, I told her it was our country’s green future. Little did I know I was just witnessing another devastating effect of global climate change.


« Front Page | To Top
« | »