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Impacts of 319 wind farms on surface temperature and vegetation in the United States

Abstract : The development of wind energy is essential for decarbonizing energy production. However, the construction of wind farms changes land surface temperature (LST) and vegetation by modifying land surface properties and disturbing land-atmosphere interactions. In this study, we used moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer satellite data to quantify the impacts on local climate and vegetation of 319 wind farms in the United States. Our results indicated insignificant impacts on LST during the daytime but significant warming of 0.10 °C of annual mean nighttime LST averaged over all wind farms, and 0.36 °C for those 61% wind farms with warming. The nighttime LST impacts exhibited seasonal variations, with stronger warming in winter and autumn, up to 0.18 °C, but weaker effects in summer and spring. We observed a decrease in peak normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) for 59% of wind farms due to infrastructure construction, with an average reduction of 0.0067 compared to non-wind farm areas. The impacts of wind farms depended on wind farm size, with winter LST impacts for large and small wind farms ranging from 0.21 °C to 0.14 °C, and peak NDVI impacts ranging from -0.009 to -0.006. The LST impacts declined with the increasing distance from the wind farm, with detectable impacts up to 10 km. In contrast, the vegetation impacts on NDVI were only evident within the wind farm locations. Wind farms built in grassland and cropland showed larger warming effects but weaker vegetation impact than those built on forests. Furthermore, spatial correlation analyses with environmental factors suggest limited geographical controls on the heterogeneous wind farm impacts and highlight the important role of local factors. Our analyses based on a large sample offer new evidence for wind farm impacts with improved representativeness compared to previous studies. This knowledge is important to fully understand the climatic and environmental implications of energy system decarbonization.
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Contributor : Nathalie Pothier Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, March 16, 2022 - 4:19:05 PM
Last modification on : Friday, March 18, 2022 - 3:36:08 AM


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Yingzuo Qin, Yan Li, Ru Xu, Chengcheng Hou, Alona Armstrong, et al.. Impacts of 319 wind farms on surface temperature and vegetation in the United States. Environmental Research Letters, IOP Publishing, 2022, 17, ⟨10.1088/1748-9326/ac49ba⟩. ⟨insu-03610734⟩



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