A study that just came out in Nature Climate Change found that wind farms can impact local temperatures, particularly at night. Basically, the turbines mix warmer air from high up with colder air closer to the ground. Hence, warmer air overall, in these very local spots.
So, of course, Fox News is telling people that “New research shows wind farms cause global warming.” Not to be out-crazied, the Telegraph is going with “Wind farms can cause climate change.” Gizmodo at least uses the word “local” in its headline. But unfortunately such restraint hasn’t stopped the internet from deciding, as this apparently very patriotic gentleman on Twitter demonstrates, that “Wind farms = worse for local climate change than 100 years of pollution (0.6 degree F).”
Which, FINE, the scientists report that the temperature changes they’ve documented, “if spatially large enough, may have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate.” That impact, however, is different from what we normally mean by climate change. We’re talking about the increase of global average temperatures, which — funny how averages work — is a much bigger deal than local temperature increases.
The study’s lead author did explain this to the Guardian:
“Overall, the warming effect reported in our study is local and is small compared to the strong year-to-year changes” that result from natural variation, said Zhou.
Also, this study does not mean that we should stop building new wind farms, the author said. So, to review, building massive energy-generating wind turbines has a local environmental impact. It’s probably important to find out more about that. But we also need to stop global climate change. Which wind turbines do not create. Savvy? Ah, it’s going to be a long week.
Impacts of wind farms on land surface temperatures, Nature Climate Change.