Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Contribute Climate Model to Study That Finds Some Winds Decreasing

29.06.2009
A team of three Iowa State University researchers contributed to a study that found average wind speeds across the country have decreased by an average of .5 percent to 1 percent per year since 1973.

Declining wind speeds in parts of the United States could impact more than the wind power industry, say Iowa State University climate researchers.

Three Iowa State researchers contributed their expertise in modeling North America’s climate to a study to be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres. The study – led by Sara C. Pryor, a professor of atmospheric science at Indiana University Bloomington – found that wind speeds across the country have decreased by an average of .5 percent to 1 percent per year since 1973.

“The study found that across the country wind speeds were decreasing – more in the East than in the West, and more in the Northeast and the Great Lakes,” said Gene Takle, an Iowa State professor of geological and atmospheric sciences and agronomy.

In Iowa, a state that ranks second in the country for installed wind power capacity, Takle said the study found annual wind speed declines that matched the average for the rest of the country.

The study’s findings made headlines across the country. Most of those stories focused on the potential implications for the wind power industry.

But Iowa State’s team of climate researchers – Takle; Ray Arritt, a professor of agronomy; and Bill Gutowski, a professor of geological and atmospheric sciences – say the study raised other issues and questions, too.

The study looked at eight sets of wind data going back to 1973 and up to 2005: actual wind speed measurements from anemometers; a hybrid of measurements and computerized climate models; and two different regional climate models. Iowa State researchers contributed a regional model of North America’s climate they’ve worked with since the early 1990s. It’s a community model that researchers across the globe share and use. The Iowa State researchers have used the model to run long-term climate simulations.

Takle said there wasn’t a lot of agreement between the measurements and the various models. The model that most closely matched the measurements was the one used by the Iowa State researchers.

Gutowski said the differences aren’t surprising because the study was an initial examination of surface wind trends. He also said those differences tell climate researchers they have more work to do.

“We see this trend toward slower wind speeds and our unanswered question is whether this is part of global warming or something else,” Gutowski said. “What we’re poking into here is not something that’s commonly explored. Most studies look at temperature and precipitation, not surface winds.”

But the researchers said slower surface winds can have significant impacts beyond the wind power industry.

Crops, for example, depend on the wind for ventilation and cooling. Slower winds could mean higher field temperatures and less productive crops.

Slower winds could also mean more dew covering crops for longer periods, Takle said. That could mean problems with fungus and plant disease. That could also lead to lower yields at harvest time.

In cities, slower winds can mean more pollution and heat, the Iowa State researchers said.

“Air pollution episodes in major cities happen when there’s high pressure and stagnant air,” Takle said. “Less wind means less ventilation and less sweeping away of pollutants.”

Slower winds can also be a problem when heat waves hit a city, he said. The winds wouldn’t dissipate as much heat, allowing heat to linger and build.

All of those potential impacts need further study, the researchers said. And so does the cause of the apparent decline in the country’s wind speeds.

Takle suggested three possibilities for the trend: changes in instrumentation produced flawed measurements (though Takle said researchers made corrections to account for the changes); the study didn’t account for land-use changes such as development and tree planting that slowed winds near instruments; or the climate is changing and one consequence is slower winds.

Arritt said the study appears to support theories that climate change could affect surface winds.

“There are some good theoretical reasons to think that global warming will cause lighter winds in regions between the tropics and the Arctic,” Arritt said. “But we like to confirm our theory with data, and our results make us think the theory is on track.”

Contacts:
Gene Takle, Geographical and Atmospheric Sciences/Agronomy, (515) 294-9871, gstakle@iastate.edu
Bill Gutowski, Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, (515) 294-5632, gutowski@iastate.edu

Ray Arritt, Agronomy, (515) 294-9870, rwarritt@bruce.agron.iastate.edu

Mike Krapfl | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.iastate.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica
05.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast
01.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Construction of practical quantum computers radically simplified

05.12.2016 | Information Technology

NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica

05.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>