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Wind turbines will add up to 0.15 °C to global mean temperature

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics published a new paper by C. Wang and R.G. Prinn (MIT) called

Potential climatic impacts and reliability of very large-scale wind farms (full text PDF)

MIT press release
They look at the effects of the wind turbines on the atmosphere. The wind speed is generally reduced which lowers both the horizontal and vertical heat exchange which is normally responsible for cooling of the surface. As a consequence, the wind turbines produce warming. How much is it?

A red kite, one of approximately 1 million birds that die in Spain every year because of collisions with wind turbines.

Their result is kind of impressive. Even if wind turbines produce only 10% of the electricity consumed in 2100, their effect will translate to 1 °C of warming locally but, because of the extended effect of the local changes, it will also add 0.15 °C to the global mean temperature.

The sign could be reverted - to cooling - if the wind turbines were built on the ocean. By the way, the paper also discusses some required backup of wind energy by reliable sources such as fossil fuels.

You can see that the temperature increase per one dollar obtained in this way is much greater than the increase linked the greenhouse effect coming from CO2 produced by the burning of fossil fuels that produces the same 1 dollar. Also, if you decided to cover all your electricity needs by the wind turbines, the resulting warming of the surface would approximately match the warming expected from the fossil fuels via the greenhouse effect.

And I am neglecting the millions of birds that are killed every year. At any rate, if the paper is right, this effect itself makes it nonsensical to switch to wind turbines because of global warming because one doesn't avoid any.

This is just another example showing how marginal the CO2 greenhouse effect is. When we start to investigate temperature changes that are as small as tenths of a degree per century, there are simply very many effects that contribute - and some of them may be quite unexpected.

Iron enrichment creates a poison

AFP and others inform about a work done by Ontario researchers. They looked what iron enrichment, a proposed method to encourage life in the ocean which would store CO2, does to the composition of the phytoplankton. They found out that Pseudo-nitzschia, a subspecies, would grow a lot. This creature produces domoic acid which is a neurotoxin.

So you should better be a bit careful with similar untested chemical experiments at the global scale. You know, unlike CO2, domoic acid causes amnesic shellfish poisoning to humans. Happy swimming and drinking in an ocean cooled by 0.01 °C.

RealClimate: brown is green, up is down

RealClimate has apologized to Orwell and used his ideas to redefine the directions and the colors:
Up is Down, Brown is Green (with apologies to Orwell)
They may have wanted to correctly argue that the brown shirts are green today. But instead, they claim that this color is brown:

RealClimate requires that its readers have a very unusual color resolution to see the picture above as brown. But I am sure that there are many people who will happily agree that the color is brown. They have to. RealClimate simplifies their job of believing by offering no data, no graphs, and no satellite maps at all: statements that all inconvenient papers have to be wrong are enough.

If you missed the story, a recent study has shown that in a sharp contrast with the IPCC statements, reductions in rainfall don't lead to a fast and observable decrease of the greening. The 2005 drought in the Amazon forest - see the right picture (from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite) for the "red" areas of reduced rainfall - actually led to an increase of photosynthesis activity - see the left picture (from NASA's Terra satellite) for the "green" areas.

Well, the Amazon forest may actually be more humid than the optimal level, so a reduction of precipitation may simply be helpful.

At the RealClimate, a Simon Lewis argues that it's not important what is ever observed. What's important is what the people like him believe to happen after many years and their certainty about the answer can't ever be questioned by any data or sensible theories. It follows that the IPCC did it correctly, they say.

Oh, really, is that so simple to prove things in science?

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snail feedback (7) :

reader Klockarman said...

Not only that, but wind farms actually produce MORE CO2 emissions...

reader Mrs. EntryReqrd said...

I hope for wind turbine advances in the near future so that one day urban roof top windmills produce similar results on pigeon populations. :)

reader A'Esquecida said...

hey paul
don't worry
there's a very special place that God has reserved for people like you.
& there are no birds there.

reader ErkDemon (Eric Baird) said...

It's not a 0.15-degree increase in global mean temperature, its a 0.15-degree increase in mean temperature in the lowest layer of air directly above land.

The land absorbs sunlight, warms, and reradiates the heat to warm the adjacent air. Reduce the amount of wind, and that warmed air tends to stay put longer - it doesn't get blown straight out to sea, and it doesn't get blown up mountainsides to mix with air at other levels. So, over land, you get a greater proportion of the reradiated heat lingering at lower altitudes. But a predicted one-degree drop over the poles, so no obvious ice-loss problems (unless reduced polar precipitation reduces the rate of ice renewal).

In "people" terms, yes, that's the bit of air where all the people live. But in "physics" terms, there's no obvious predicted net increase in heat energy in the atmosphere associated with a massive implementation of windfarms over land, so I think that some might consider the use of the word "global" in this context to be a bit misleading.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear ErkDemon,

you are just distorting the definitions of the basic terms.

For decades, the global mean temperature has been determined as the weighted average from the global mean temperature in the seas, and the global mean temperature on the lands.

The former was calculated from sea surface temperatures while the latter has always been calculated from the near-surface air temperature.

That's what the term "global mean temperature" means and that's the quantity whose change has been called "global warming". There's a very good reason why we use the near-surface air temperature and not the surface one. After all, we live - and breath - (in) the air.

It's just completely dishonest for you to try to redefine the notion of "global mean temperature" whenever an inconvenient fact is found. But it's a part of the environmentalist movement, anyway. Whenever something wrong is found about the orthodoxy, it is slightly mutated and "adapts" so that it may still look viable.

That's not science. It's religion defending pre-conceived commandments.


reader ErkDemon (Eric Baird) said...

Hi Lumo!

The "0.15 C" figure appears in the last paragraph on page 2055.

" ... the increase, averaged over the entire global ==land surface==, is ... about 0.15 C. "

(emphasis added, by me)

I'm, not trying to point-score here, or "defend the orthodoxy" ... I'm just saying, if you read the paper, that's what the authors actually said.

reader Joe said...

Although current global electrical-power demand is only something like 2TW, that 0.15 deg. C appears to result from enough windmills to generate an average of 5TW--which I take it is intended to be around 10% of the *total* (not just electrical) power demand projected for the year 2100. To generate 19TW, they calculate a 0.7 deg. C. increase.

So you may consider these increases modest if you believe the IPCC's numbers for CO2-caused temperature increase.

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