University at Albany University at Albany Research Headlines
New Simulations Indicate Both Night Warming and Cooling Effects in Texas Wind Farm Region
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ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 10, 2018) — In 2012, a study led by UAlbany atmospheric scientist Liming Zhou analyzed nine years of NASA satellite data to present the first observational evidence of turbine induced nighttime warming effects in a west-central Texas region covered with wind farms.
Zhou is now simulating those findings to further understand how wind farms may be interacting with local climate.
In his latest study, Zhou, along with a team of atmospheric scientists, simulated the land surface temperature response of 2,358 wind turbines that are located in the same west-central Texas region as his previous studies. The simulations were conducted during the month of July for seven years from 2003 to 2004 and 2010 to 2014 using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, a next generation mesoscale numerical weather prediction system.
Over time, the simulated wind turbines reproduced the satellite observed local warming effect within about one tenth of a degree (.20 to .26 °C on average). However, they also produced a downwind cooling effect (-0.2 °C on average) in the vicinity behind the wind farm region at night. Something that was not found by previous studies.
Results were published last month in the American Meteorological Society’s Monthly Weather Review.
“This is the first numerical modeling study to simulate the impacts of real-world wind farms on land surface temperature driven by realistic initial and boundary conditions,” said Zhou, an associate professor in UAlbany’s Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES).
“The simulated cooling effect has not been confirmed by our satellite observations or any previous field campaigns. If it turns out to be true, it would suggest another potential environmental side effect for large wind farms that requires further scientific investigation,” added Geng Xia, a graduate student at UAlbany and lead author of the study.
Zhou and …