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New Study Shows Wind Farms Raise Local Temperatures

A new study shows wind farms may slightly increase the temperature where they are built. Turbines off the eastern coast of Greece.

Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/GettyImages

Wind power might be touted as an energy source that helps reduce global warming, but a new study says turbines may actually be heating things up—at least at the local level.

Using satellite data, researchers working in Texas have shown that wind farms have created a rise in nighttime ground air temperatures. The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, focused on an area in west-central Texas, which has seen a boom in the construction of wind farms in recent years.

Why is the warming happening? Air further above ground, which tends to be warmer at night, was being brought down to ground level by spinning turbines. 

The rise in temperature–less than one degree Celsius over a decade—would likely stop along with construction. And it’s far from the kind of broad climate impact generated by fossil fuel use. But some Texas residents may be sweating a little more at night, so clean wind energy can keep us all a bit cooler. 

Video produced by Jim Festante.