Scientist Debunks Misleading Coverage Of Wind Energy Study

A recent study of satellite data found that nighttime land temperatures in the immediate vicinity of wind turbines in Texas have increased relative to nearby areas without wind turbines. Conservative media outlets, including Fox Nation, Rush Limbaugh and Jim Hoft, are distorting the research to claim that wind farm "cause global warming" and Fox News’ morning show concluded "wind power ain’t working." But the study’s lead author said via email that this coverage is "misleading."

The researchers, led by Liming Zhou, said it is "[v]ery likely" that "wind turbines do not create a net warming of the air and instead only re-distribute the air’s heat near the surface, which is fundamentally different from the large-scale warming effect caused by increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases." The wind turbines pull down warm air, increasing land surface temperatures, which already have "a larger day-night variation" than the surface air temperatures featured in daily weather reports.

The authors further noted that "this analysis is from a short period," from 2003 to 2011, and is "over a region with rapid growth of wind farms," west-central Texas, so it is likely that their estimate of a "nighttime warming effect" is higher than "in other locations and over longer periods."

By Shauna Theel,