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Modification of synoptic weather patterns by wind power grids

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

For reasons I don't want to go into, I knew this paper would be appearing in the very near future and it finally got published online in the EGU journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussion.


ACPD is the online open review process for the print journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, so by tracking the link you can see how scientists respond to the idea.  Many lay people read this as a news blurb in various outlets and are treating it as a joke.  However, it is not.  The authors are fairly well respected modelers and if you do the calculations, large wind-power grids extract a small, but significant amount of power from the wind field (I vaguely recall the number is something on order of 5%, but I might be off by a factor of 2 low and 3 high).  So it is plausible, or at least plausible enough that the paper will get a decent peer-review, that wind power arrays will result in weather modification. 


There is no such thing as a free lunch. *Any* method to generate the amount of energy a highly technological society of many hundreds of millions of beings requires on a daily basis will have ecological/environmental consequences. 


Edited by gcnp58 - Sat, 31 Jan 2009 21:18:43 GMT
post #2 of 5

So what kind of weather impacts are we talking about?  It mentioned altering cyclones a bit, but I didn't see any other specifics.

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

They mainly talk in generalities, things like seeing modifications in the pressure fields and baroclinic and barotropic instabilities.  Since instability is the technical term for "weather," the inference is that if models show wind turbine arrays lead to changes in the pressure fields and instability, that is weather modification.  But they don't say things like: "downstream of a 50 GW array there is a 50% greater likelihood of severe weather events" or "it will be 15% cloudier."  This is just showing there is a measurable change in the modeled flow due to the energy extracted by the turbines. 


It may all be nonsense, the paper hasn't been through peer-review yet.  I suspect it will get roundly thrashed. 

post #4 of 5

i have thought about this, but saw it as more likely to be a positive, just meaning calmer and therefore warmer air downwind... oh, you might get a bit of a rain shadow, like downwind of cities. i mainly thought about it in regard to tidal stream turbines, maybe siting them 'up current' near shores that you dont want eroded would work as sea defences, which we are abandoning along our east coest now anyway, much to the alarm of the hilltop residents.

post #5 of 5

If most of the turbines are only 150' to 250' high - how is that going to cause a 5% or so change in pressure... I am no meteorologist (I probably even spelled that wrong, LOL), but I would think you need to be causing bigger change at a higher altitude for there to be significant "weather" alterations.  Sure, lower level changes I can completely understand - like 100' up, or where hang-gliders play... maybe fog patterns and such.

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