Wind Power Won't Save Us: Global Warming Might Be Cutting Back On Wind Speeds

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Here’s a weird one. Preliminary research coming out of Iowa State University is showing that peak wind speeds have been slowing since 1973 across the East and the Midwest.

The slow down in wind speeds is bad news for anyone hoping to get more electricity from wind turbines. According Jonathan Miles, of James Madison University (who didn’t write the study), a 10% drop in wind speed is equal to a 30% drop in how much energy can be gained.

Strangely enough, there might be a relationship between the rising temperature of the planet and dip in wind speed. Wind races across ice much quicker than it does across water. On the Great Lakes, there is less ice now, which could be part of the reason for a slowing in wind speeds.

It’s not just a local phenomenon. Wind speeds are slowing globaly, and a heating planet might be causing this as well. The temperature difference between the poles and the equator is shrinking, which means a drop in air pressure. That means wind speeds could decline.

The relationship between global warming and wind speeds is not definitive, but it’s an idea that’s floating out there.

Studying change in wind speeds is fraught with complications. The locations where wind information is gathered are victim to possible changes like trees growing to block wind, which could affect the data.

The full study will be released in August in the peer-reviewed Journal of Geophysical Research.

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