There’s a lot we don’t know about wind turbines. This photograph – showing clouds forming downwind of turbines in a North Sea wind farm – is one dramatic illustration. Bob Banta, a scientist at the Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, studies winds in the lower atmosphere and says nobody knows exactly what’s going on in this photo – why the clouds form, why they’re wider on the right than the left.
The impacts of wind turbines on local weather conditions is an emerging field of study. Last fall, scientists released a study showing that wind turbines change local air temperatures – raising nighttime temps and reducing temps during the rest of the day. And a recent simulation has suggested that offshore wind turbines could cool the atmosphere above the ocean.
While the details remain intriguing mysteries, it’s clear that the relationship between wind turbines and the air around them isn’t a simple one-way street.