Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

New Study Suggests Wind Farms Can Cause Climate Change

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the stirring-things-up dept.

Earth 384

nachiketas writes "A study led by Liming Zhou, Research Associate Professor at the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the University of New York concludes that large wind farms could noticeably impact local weather patterns. According to Professor Zhou: 'While converting wind's kinetic energy into electricity, wind turbines modify surface-atmosphere exchanges and transfer of energy, momentum, mass and moisture within the atmosphere. These changes, if spatially large enough, might have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Local impact = climate change? (5, Insightful)

gtall (79522) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843837)

Who wrote that headline and how can we make him stop writing new ones.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843857)

These changes, if spatially large enough, might have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate.

I think the implication is that a world covered in wind farms would experience climate change, which is improbably indeed

Re:Local impact = climate change? (1, Interesting)

l2718 (514756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843901)

Even so, these changes are wholly dependent on these machines - remove the wind fanss and the weather will revert to its previous state. This has nothing to do with climate change, which is a change to the underlying system.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (1, Insightful)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844023)

That's also a climate change.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844061)

Not really, once you remove the turbines, damage may have been done, you may have changed your treeline structure and it will take many years to get back to normal.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (5, Informative)

starcraftsicko (647070) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844105)

This has nothing to do with climate change, which is a change to the underlying system.

By that logic, there is no such thing as climate change. CO2 emissions do not change the underlying system, and were they do stop completely, the system would, in time, revert/adjust. By your logic, climate change can't exist unless thermodynamic laws (or whatever) are changed.

Anyone who thinks that the deployment of [technologies] across large portions of Earth's surface will not have significant impact is delusional. Don't be that guy.

All "clean" energy, whether wind, solar, hydro, coal, fission, etc. is merely "relatively" clean. Wind kills birds and warms areas downstream. Coal makes smog and dumps carbon. Hydro kills fish and and alters local climate. Fission makes giant lizards emerge from Tokyo bay...

Re:Local impact = climate change? (0)

Knitebane (64590) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844205)

By that logic, there is no such thing as climate change.

...and the student was enlightened.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844265)

Cats, power lines and shiny glass buildings kill more birds than wind farms. Of course we don't have that many wind turbines yet, but still the figures don't look that scary. http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/wind-turbine-kill-birds.htm [howstuffworks.com]

Wind farms apparently do weird shit to bats though: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14593-wind-turbines-make-bat-lungs-explode.html [newscientist.com]

Re:Local impact = climate change? (1)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844403)

Coal makes smog and dumps carbon.

You forgot that coal creates acid rain that generally kills off wildlife and not-so-slowly dissolves buildings away.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (2)

milkmage (795746) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844455)

i don't know... FTA

“This makes sense, since at night the ground becomes much cooler than the air just a few hundred meters above the surface, and the wind farms generate gentle turbulence near the ground that causes these to mix together, thus the ground doesn't get quite as cool. This same strategy is commonly used by fruit growers (who fly helicopters over the orchards rather than windmills) to combat early morning frosts.”

sounds like the inverse of blowing on hot food.. which, IMO, doesn't qualify as climate change. if you stir the air, you're going to get a change in temp.. it doesn't fall into the same category as greenhouse gasses etc... and this mostly applies at night - whereas "actual" climate change doesn't care what time of day it is.

"Usually at night the air closer to the ground becomes colder when the sun goes down and the earth cools."

Re:Local impact = climate change? (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844141)

Even so, these changes are wholly dependent on these machines - remove the wind fans and the weather will revert to its previous state. This has nothing to do with climate change, which is a change to the underlying system.

What would you define as climate change then, if you take the extra CO2 and other man made gasses out of the air weather will revert back to its previous state as well as the removal of these giant structures littered across the country side.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (4, Insightful)

ilguido (1704434) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844171)

No, who did tell you that the world (the weather, in this case) works as a linear system? Is the Sahara desert turning back to a green land since we stopped sheep farming/overcultivating there? Is the Aral lake taking back its lost water now, when none is pumping out its water?

Re:Local impact = climate change? (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844391)

That is not accurate at all.
If you change the climate then you necessarily change the environment, which in tun effects the climate.
If you turn a desert into a swamp or a forest into glacier then there is no easy way to go back.

Not only will even a small amount of climate change kill most indigenous life but it will also change the landscape enough that no matter how much time you give it after you remove the wind farms the climate very well might never go back.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (3, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843863)

"These changes, if spatially large enough, might have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate."

Headline matches the summary.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843913)

It's still an awful headline and summary.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843941)

It's deliberately misleading to generate page clicks. Gutter press level, basically.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (3, Funny)

Grax (529699) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844029)

Change is bad. Stop changing things.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (3, Funny)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844059)

"These changes, if spatially large enough, might have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate."

Headline matches the summary.

yes it matches .. sort of. The summary uses words like 'might' and 'could', but the headline uses 'can'. IMHO 'can' denotes something that is far more likely to occur than 'might' or 'could' - hence the headline is effectively editorializing (even if not explicitly done)

Re:Local impact = climate change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843921)

Chaos Theory, Butterfly Effect ...

Re:Local impact = climate change? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843947)

It changes the climate resulting in less destructive weather.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843973)

out of so called "destruction", new things arrive.

without much of the so called destruction, we wouldn't exist.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (2)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844097)

out of so called "destruction", new things arrive.

without much of the so called destruction, we wouldn't exist.

True, but now that we do exist, I would like the destruction to stop, thank you very much.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844541)

Start with yourself. Why don't you tell your stomach to stop destroying all those innocent complex organic compounds for your own selfish needs, you dirty hypocrite?

The Earth and the life handle a little destruction here and there just fine. An asteroid impact to the tune of a hundred teratons of TNT? Meh, nothing a million years or two of evolving things anew can't fix. A few million cubic kilometers of lava and accompanying stuff pouring out? Meh. Pesky critters building shit and fuming the atmosphere? Just give it a few millenia, it'll pass.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (0)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844021)

Who wrote that headline and how can we make him stop writing new ones.

He probably got plenty of clicks, which was his intention.

OTOH the non-thinkers probably just lost a few more brain cells so yes, he should be taken out back and shot.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (0)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844049)

Follow up: I can understand this from the Daily Telegraph, but Discovery channel is repeating it...

http://news.discovery.com/earth/hot-wind-farms-120429.html [discovery.com]

Expect it to be on Fox News with the next 20 minutes.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844035)

Well if you change enough of the local areas then you could effect a global scale.
Everything you choose has a trade-offs. The best defense isn't "green energy" but energy diversity. So we limit the hazards of our trade-offs and if one trade-off becomes too expensive then you can switch to an other one without have to do a major change.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (5, Funny)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844129)

Female reporter: "Those windmills will keep them cool!"

Morbo [youtube.com] : "WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY! GOODNIGHT!"

/., I am disappointed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844379)

a) This is not first comment on the thread
b) You completely failed the delivery.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (3, Insightful)

a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844215)

Actually they are right.

But also what should be in the news:

cars affect climate change
houses affect climate change
everyone by breathing affect climate change.

So its nothing new - move along. Everything affects climate change even the wings of a colibri in the amazonas...

Re:obvious (4, Insightful)

miknix (1047580) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844225)

Changes are made to a ecosystem and the ecosystem reacts to those changes, news at eleven.

Re:obvious (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844441)

I also have nightmares about the valley of the living windmills.

Re:obvious (2)

miknix (1047580) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844571)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecosystem [wikipedia.org]
"An ecosystem is a biological system consisting of all the living organisms or biotic components in a particular area and the nonliving or abiotic component with which the organisms interact, such as air, mineral soil, water and sunlight."

Even if windmills are not living beings, they interact with wind that in turn interacts with living beings and other abiotic components. I'm no biologist but I think this is quite obvious.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (4, Insightful)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844477)

Stop conflating climate with a global system.

Localities also have a climate. Climate does not equal global climate. Climate is merely the weather over a significant period of time of a particular location -- your back yard has a climate, though it likely matches your neighbor's climate. Valleys have a climate different than the mountains that surround them.

In short, in your attempt to be a pedant and nitpick the headline and the summary, you have instead shown yourself a fool. A foolish fool.

could this explain (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843841)

the bizarre weather we have been seeing the last few years?

Re:could this explain (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843851)

Do you have a lot of very large turbine farms in your area? Then possibly, but unlikely.

Re:could this explain (0)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844069)

Yes I do where I live.

No way! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843845)

We must stop this reliance on wind energy, which is causing such harm to the environment! Increased usage of this harmful wind pollution will inevitably result in a global climate catastrophe within the next century! We must start finding alternative fuels NOW!

Re:No way! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843977)

NOW!!!

Re:No way! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844073)

I wanted to mod this "Funny", but it got labeled "informative"...

Done to death already (3, Interesting)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843849)

This has been done to death already elsewhere. The bottom line is that increasing the surface temperature (at the expense of cooling the air) increases the thermal radiation into space and therefore has the overall bottom line effect of (very slightly) cooling the earth.

Re:Done to death already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844057)

Solar power also cools the earth (technically wind power is Solar too). The Sun only provides so much energy and that energy is what make the Earth run. You suck enough of it away and it will be as bad as anything else.

In other words, at some point we will reach a limit where our Sun can not support the amount of humans on the planet. We need to get more efficient and invest in space exploration.

Re:Done to death already (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844147)

Solar power also cools the earth (technically wind power is Solar too). The Sun only provides so much energy and that energy is what make the Earth run. You suck enough of it away and it will be as bad as anything else.

In other words, at some point we will reach a limit where our Sun can not support the amount of humans on the planet. We need to get more efficient and invest in space exploration.

Space exploration will never be a solution to overpopulation on such a large planet. Why? Because the only possible explanation for packing 10+ billion people on this planet is ignorance and poverty.

So the people who are able to afford space travel will not be the ones with a land availability issue.

Re:Done to death already (5, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844581)

The Sun only provides so much energy and that energy is what make the Earth run.

Well, the Sun as well as the Moon's tidal forces which cause the Earth to flex by approx 30cm daily causing friction in the Earth while also massaging the crust to help relieve pressure.

Well, that and the previous star(s) that blew up and who's energy is present in the matter and angular momentum preserved in the forming of our solar system.
You could very well also argue that if we continue using energy at this rate, we'll also accelerate the Heat Death of the Universe.

Re:Done to death already (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844077)

This has ...The bottom line... effect of ... cooling the earth.

Global warming solved. Got it.

Re:Done to death already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844139)

duh, the bottom line is always that there is the conservation of energy law involved.

you bring energy out of the wind, why people are expecting anything else that umbalance?

Hm, we better stick to coal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843873)

think of the environment.

I've never understood... (1)

ihop0 (988608) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843905)

I've never understood why this issue is never discussed. You're taking energy out of the system, and wind from people downstream. Local weather patterns aren't closed systems.

Re:I've never understood... (2, Insightful)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844219)

Because it's mostly BS. Think about it. What do you think planting trees does to the wind? What about cutting trees down? We've cut enough trees down over the past 200 years that we could probably put a billion wind turbines up and not get back to what was "natural" 200 years ago.

As far as the forces involved, imagine a kid dabbling his toes in a river. Does he slow the river down or change its course? No. What about 100 kids? Still no. The forces pushing the river are so much larger and stronger than anything toes can interrupt. Sure a tiny bit of the river slows down as the water swirls and eddies around the toes, but as gravity continues to pull it downstream, it speeds right back up to the speed it was going before. If you're not actually removing water (e.g. for a city water supply) or blocking enough to form a lake (e.g. a dam), you're not going to have a noticeable impact downstream.

Re:I've never understood... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844291)

Actually, speaking of trees...we've got more planted now than we used to have, at least in the US.

And...FDR implemented the Great Plains Shelterbelt. Almost 20,000 miles of windbreaks.

Re:I've never understood... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844469)

You missed one key force that DOES make a significant impact, and more directly relates to the systems involved:

When ONE kid dips his toe in the river, the height of the water changes (water level rises upstream and drops downstream) with the additional mass the foreign body presents. While this takes place, the temperature of the system drops, as more energy is required to balance this effect then previous. Though you're right, the effect of one (or even one hundred) toes is fairly insignificant, the point of the article is that every system has a tipping point.

In the case of wind, (I've been trying to complete research on solar photo voltaic cell's effect on similar macroscopic environmental repercussions on and off for the last five years) if you put up enough towers, you MAY not stop the wind itself, but you WILL produce effects that few bother to consider in the long term. Temperature drop being one of the most apparent, though seemingly unrelated things like deforestation (due to the potentially adverse effects of modifying weather patterns that local trees may depend on for reproductive purposes) or even increased plant growth (as the changed environment may in fact INCREASE the reproductive rates of trees that have been stagnant for years)

Etc.

tl:dr
Changing the environment in the macro world changes things.

Re:I've never understood... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844227)

That was always my thought on wind generated power as well, but just like we use to do with rivers, we don't care about people further down the line.

Re:I've never understood... (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844517)

Because humans have never been able to comprehend things the size of the earth. Our history is littered with "there is so much of this it does not matter what we do with it, we will never effect it" thinking.

If you or someone else had raised this idea on a previous /. article about wind turbines, ocean wave generators, geothermal, ect. you would have 5 guys responding with that exact same line.

Of course they can. (5, Insightful)

matthewmacleod (1711466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843917)

Modifying wind patterns will very obviously have an effect on local climate. Local is the key word - these guys are talking about and increase of under one degree, directly above those wind farms, and it seems likely that this is caused by the small amounts of turbulence generated by the turbines.

Now, if evidence emerges that this is harmful in some way, then we should of course evaluate that and make sure we understand the effects. However, I think stating "Wind Farms Can Cause Climate Change" is clearly intended to sensationalise this research and attract page views - especially given The Telegraph's well-known rabid-anti-environmentalism (they're especially anti-wind-turbine.)

Re:Of course they can. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844143)

Global warming is a change of under one degree.

Multiply a local change countless times worldwide and all of a sudden local becomes global.

Look at this guy who just can't accept anything that doesn't fit his world view. He even has a strawman to attack and everything!

Re:Of course they can. (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844435)

So there's going to be a wind farm on every single square mile of land? Including the ocean?

No? Then you're not going to have a global change of one degree.

RTFA before writing headline (2, Informative)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843931)

From TFA:

However Prof Zhou pointed out the most extreme changes were just at night and the overall changes may be smaller.

Also, it is much smaller than the estimated change caused by other factors such as man made global warming.

“Overall, the warming effect reported in this study is local and is small compared to the strong background year-to-year land surface temperature changes,” he added.
...
“This makes sense, since at night the ground becomes much cooler than the air just a few hundred meters above the surface, and the wind farms generate gentle turbulence near the ground that causes these to mix together, thus the ground doesn't get quite as cool. This same strategy is commonly used by fruit growers (who fly helicopters over the orchards rather than windmills) to combat early morning frosts.”

University of New York? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843967)

What is the University of New York? Can they get NYU straight?

Duh, removal of enegy from enviro affects enviro (5, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843969)

Any removal of energy from the environment wlll affect the environment.

Solar energy capture reduces ground heating. Hyrdo capture reduces errosion and soil redistribution. Wind capture reduces winds and associated head and moisture distribution. Wave energy capture reduces shore errosion and fine particlate distribution. Tide capture does really really small scale stuff to the earth-moon-sun relationship.

You don't get anything for free. The question is what do we accept as side effects of the energy extraction.

Re:Duh, removal of enegy from enviro affects envir (5, Funny)

Gotung (571984) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844497)

To sum up your post: entropy is a bitch.

Robert Heinlein (5, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843971)

"There is no such thing as a free lunch"

All rational people understand that entropy exists and is always increasing. The point is not that humans can have an impact on climate and environment, the question is can we do things to minimize the impact.

For example, we replaced horse poop all over the city with leaded fuel exhaust. When we did not all live in cities, the horse poop was not so bad, but cars were better for cities. Then we realized that lead was not so good for us, so we took lead out. Then the exhaust was still not so good, so we made cars more efficient. These changes costs important people lots of money, so they were opposed by uncreative people with lots of money, but in the end we have more efficient transportation that do not leave piles of feces in the street.

So I read this report the other day, and my question is still the same. Would these locations prefer a windmill farm or coal fired plant. I ask this question because ultimately we cannot continue to reap the benefit of electricity production and outsource the consequences. It is expensive to do so. The question is not that does the new tech cause problems, but are those problems less than the old tech. I think it is arguably so.

Re:Robert Heinlein (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844053)

Ah, but Coal Fired plants can be improved in effiiciency- they're not even close to where they could be there.

In short, people went to wind farms, not because they were efficient (in terms of scale of ability to produce power, they currently aren't...) but because they were "green"- which the report appears to have dispelled at least part of that delusion.

As you say, there's no such thing as a free lunch. In addition to it not really being green in it's current form as claimed, it can't be sustainable in it's power production. You really get a feast/famine effect with windfarms and they don't produce power continuously like a coal fired or nuclear plant can. Until you come up with a means to reap the feast into storage and then dump it to the grid when the famine occurs, windfarms now appear to be almost the worst answer there of the lot. We'd be better off refining liquid salt thorium reactors. Seriously.

Re:Robert Heinlein (3, Interesting)

stomv (80392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844233)

It's not that I disagree, it's that I sure wish you had added that we noticed that horses were difficult and walking was slow, so we added mass transit, and then about 100 years later we noticed that no matter how little autos emit from their tailpipes, they are still not very welcome in cities because they take up too much space, slow down mass transit buses and street cars, and are far too dangerous to pedestrians and bicycles. Because of this, [some] cities in the past 20 years have actively worked to reduce the number of autos in the city, through a suite of tools including car-free streets or urban centers, reducing parking minimums in zoning and even replacing them with parking maximums, increasing the price of on-street parking while reducing it's quantity, increasing the availability and efficiency of mass transit and, more recently, bicycle sharing, and rethinking roadway infrastructure to improve the flow and safety for peds, cyclists, and mass transit users even if it degrades the efficiency for motor vehicles.

Sorry, not entirely relevant but I couldn't resist!

Not just that! (1)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843991)

They also extract energy from the athmosphere (I actually have no idea on how much).
But in the end all depends on how many wind farms will be deployed.

wind farm vs forest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39843993)

OK, clearly a wind farm can have SOME effect. Everything has SOME effect, even if it's just miniscule. However, how can the effects of a wind farm be any different than the effect of planting a forest (other than the windfarm can be constructed faster than it takes the forest to grow)?

Cities, planes .... (1)

RichMan (8097) | more than 2 years ago | (#39843997)

Cities cause local/regional climate change.
Plane travel collectively has a continent wide impact on cloud cover.

Face it, there are enough people that anything we do collectively has impact on the world.

Don't trees do the same thing? (1)

techsimian (2555762) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844001)

Buildings, billboards, overpasses, fences, signs, telephone poles, radio masts, flag poles..anything that either obstructs or formerly-obstructed-but-was-removed has an effect on climate. Do we have a Chicken Little tag?

Trees (4, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844005)

Wouldn't this really just be the same effect as an equivalent area covered by large trees? Yes, it could slightly alter the climate, but any physical environment change will.

Re:Trees (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844051)

Dingdingdingding! This has actually been discussed here on Slashdot to goddamn death. Every time there's a story about wind energy some asshole pops up to say "but if we put up enough windmills to get all our energy" (or whatever other fascetious argument) "then what effect will that have on the atmosphere?" Well, there used to be trees where we're putting the windmills, what did you think THEY did to the wind? There's clearly an excess of energy in the system of global weather, we're seeing the results now with new record highs and low being set all over the world, in many cases within just a few days of each other. Anyone who thinks that's normal, please, refrain from replying.

We already know that covering the damned planet in windmills wouldn't be a problem, because it is supposed to be covered in trees.

Re:Trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844155)

Windmills and trees are not comparable.

Windmills extract much more energy for a given projected area - that is the entire point of these machines.

Doubt this? Ask a pilot why props can feather....

Re:Trees (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844381)

Windmills extract much more energy for a given projected area - that is the entire point of these machines.

Trees don't "harvest" any energy, so perhaps you could make a statement that makes some kind of sense. They do, however, turn that energy into benefit; a tree whipped by the wind will become stronger. Trees turn wind energy into structural integrity, which we can make use of later.

Regardless, the total surface area of the trees that would be in a place versus the windmills that would be in a place is much higher even if you count the rotor as a disc, let alone if you treat it as what it is.

No shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844007)

You mean these HUGE things that absorb energy straight out of winds can change the weather? GET OUT... you're lying man, don't kid like that.

Guess what else does that?
Building skyscrapers, oh and growing large rows of trees. (equally bringing down either of those also does)
Hell, just about anything large-scale does.

So, this is quite literally a case of "you are damned if you do and damned if you don't". So it is pretty much a moot point, there is NO way of getting around it.
Tall, large things will change weather whether we like it or not.

The only thing we can reliably do is:
build farms farther out at sea to steal energy out of ocean winds (still going to have a knock-on effect regardless)
build large buildings in the negative, in other words, underground. (actually works out really well, but also has a knock-on effect with regards to IT COSTS A LOT)

Concrete jungle or underground cities?
Larger absorption or larger cost?
Neither are better or worse. Well, I say that, larger cost is worse because most people won't give a damn about what happens after they are dead.

The hysteria from this will grow like crazy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844013)

It's like the butterfly flapping its wings in China causing a typhoon.

Humans have always had an impact on the environment, and we've known it, though we've often been wrong about it, such as how "Rain follows the plow" so what's new here?

Nothing.

This is just somebody trying to be anti-green green.

Yes, yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844019)

but does that mean temperature goes up, or down? Don't just stand milling around man, get to the point!

Umm.... so do buildings... (5, Funny)

frente69 (1058782) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844041)

Anything that sticks out of the ground is going to have an impact on airflow and climate. We should demolish all buildings and trees and live underground. Lizard people figured this out centuries ago. That's why they live underground.

Wind farm owners will ENGAGE in climate change... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844055)

Industrial-scale wind farms will extract energy from the atmosphere in ways comparable (but initially invisible) to hydroelectric's impact on watersheds. As worrying, the owners of industrial-scale wind will have a very deep interest in weather modification (WM) tools to literally steer more wind their way.

This is not beyond the realm of technical feasibility, and with industrial wind and industrial solar, there will be a level of economic incentive for WM tools to provide sunny, breezy days that current WM audiences can't muster. It's one thing to try to use WM to break a 30-yr drought; its quite another to have an extra 1/2knot of wind over 180 days, or 30 more days of sun per year, translate into $XXX in shareholder value via higher power output.

predicted that one (1, Insightful)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844075)

I predicted that one a few years ago. You can not take energy out of a system with out impacting the overall performance of the system.

Re:predicted that one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844371)

Ahh but if we offset the extra wind resistance from windmills by cutting down tree's that provide the same resistance then we'll be fine!

it's no worse than a butterfly then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844079)

man these chaotic systems are a mess!

Re:it's no worse than a butterfly then... (1)

McDrewbs (2434030) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844095)

Henceforth, it shall never be known as the butterfly effect again, it is now the wind farm effect.

Climate change, isn't that what we want? (5, Funny)

unix_core (943019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844089)

Isn't one of the main purposes of using wind power to reverse the effects of global warming, in other words to change the climate?

yet another reason for solar (1, Funny)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844131)

This is a great boon to those looking for a reason to choose solar over wind.

We could ditch oil, coal, and nuclear entirely if we just build solar farms.

Re:yet another reason for solar (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844241)

> We could ditch oil, coal, and nuclear entirely if we just build solar farms.

Well, sure. Because nothing would grow due to lack of ground heating, and our remaining population of about 3 people wouldn't need all that much energy.

Re:yet another reason for solar (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844451)

We could ditch oil, coal, and nuclear entirely if we just build solar farms.

I don't think you realize how difficult it is to build solar farms. The surface of the sun is almost 6000K so the type of exotic material that could make a farm work there has not really been invented yet, and forget about getting your average earth plants and animals to survive there. Not to mention the enormous cost of transporting the farm equipment and building materials 150+ million km from here.

I kid, I kid...

Trees affect the wind too! (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844181)

You know, there are large projects which involve planting trees along freeways to help reduce the noise of the vehicles passing through. And sometimes, in cities where the tall buildings grow, the streets are extremely windy because the streets, sans foliage, tend to channel and concentrate the flow of air as it rushes from high pressure to low pressure zones.

Trees and wind farms do tend to act against the constant shift of balance from high to low. And without them resisting (but not stopping) the flow of air, the changes become more gentle... at least near the surface... (Nothing is stopping the flows where the REAL weather is happening... up, thousands of feet above the surface of the ground.)

"You cannot take energy out of a system without impacting the performance of the system." Yeah... kinda true... sort of... but the thing that makes weather is discarded energy sent to us from the sun. The sun sends out its energy in limitless amounts. No amount of pin-wheels will change what the sun is doing and so the difference in potential which is where we get energy, will remain pretty much the same regardless of how much we are able to extract from it.

Re:Local impact = climate change? (1)

grunfeld (913835) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844187)

maybe the author of the study should of used words like definite maybe, if one or two trees where planted it would change the results of this "study" Fine work fine work not

Just so we're clear... (2)

DemonGenius (2247652) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844217)

... change of climate (which is what I think TFA is implying, didn't read though) is not the same as "climate change".

Compare this to the heat island effect (2)

swampfriend (2629073) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844251)

http://www.epa.gov/hiri/ [epa.gov] "The term "heat island" describes built up areas that are hotter than nearby rural areas. The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1.8–5.4F (1–3C) warmer than its surroundings. In the evening, the difference can be as high as 22F (12C)." Great news story, I really feel clued in to the important issues of the day. *kills self*

BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844263)

That's wrong. These are windmills, not wind fans. They are passive, and don't blow wind, but rather turn the turbines based on wind that's already present. The only wind I hear blowing is the researcher who provided the hazy "facts" for this article.

Re:BS (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844407)

I don't know if you're just a troll, but obviously the energy content of the wind, particularly with respect to velocity and momentum, changes as the wind passes the turbine blades.

The wind is basically slowed down and that change in energy spins the turbine which then produces electricity. It is intuitively obvious that doing this on a large enough scale would change wind patterns enough to modify the local climate.

Misleading Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844273)

The headline is misleading because you think this is related to Global warming, which it isn't. The global climate isn't getting warmer because of wind mills.

It only causes measurement problems (3, Informative)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844297)

Windfarms only cause apparent climate change when meteorologists have their thermometers on the ground. Mixing air of different temperatures doesn't heat it, not while the conservation of energy is valid.

No-Guilt Massive Energy Transfers (4, Interesting)

Spinlock_1977 (777598) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844301)

I think this almost falls into the 'no shit, Sherlock' camp. I'm glad someone with credentials is finally saying it. Please pass it along to the geo-thermal guys, who seem to think that sucking energy from the inside of this planet will never have an effect. Oh, and the wave-power-generation guys need to know too - they'll be disturbing ecologies and water flow patterns for miles around - who knows how far those effects will cascade? Scale counts - oil consumption wasn't a problem until we scaled it out - the same fate awaits any terrestrial energy source we scale.

There are only two places to get energy: 1. Earth, 2. Not Earth. Given a choice, I'll choose 2.

Re:No-Guilt Massive Energy Transfers (4, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844475)

the same fate awaits any energy source we scale.

There, fixed that for you.
 

There are only two places to get energy: 1. Earth, 2. Not Earth. Given a choice, I'll choose 2.

Getting energy from "Not Earth" means (eventually) dumping energy into the Earth's systems. What happens when you scale it up? TANSTAAFL.

Scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844303)

In other news, cutting down a tree can lead to deforestation.

It's all about scale. The big question is, "How many wind turbines (and fo what size) would it actually take to harvest enough energy to produce a noticable effect?"

Bet this blows your mind if you're a (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39844341)

Foaming at the mouth greentard. Climate change is normal part of Earth history. It's been caused by a number of things, and I assure you that Earth will still be here well after humans are gone.

And we know humans affect climate. So did dinosaur farts and collisions with large space debris.

A lot of you need to take a step back. Funny though, that your green-tech also causes climate change. Maybe eventually you'll realize that _everything_ affects climate and the correct climate for Earth is what it already is. It will self-correct when needed.

Skyscrapers and any city (2)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844369)

Skyscrapers and any large man-made structures also have an effect on regional climate. Is this any different? At least with wind farms, we're not dumping high levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and superheating the earth.

Less Impact (1)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844507)

This option doesn't emit carcinogens into our environment leading to health issues down the road.

It may cause climatological changes in the local area, but call me crazy for thinking I'd rather adapt to weather pattern changes than have my body try to adapt to carcinogens from current energy producing means.

Farting also changes the local climate (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844557)

Then farting near a wind farm must be twice as bad to the climate change. That makes sense.

Just like forests. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39844561)

Trees also slow the wind causing a LOCAL change. So should we also ban trees?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?