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On my way in to work today there was a guest on the radio claiming that the "Heat Dome" was the result of the disturbance of natural wind patterns by the windfarms that have proliferated the midwestern US in the last decade. He also said that it was not being moved out because of this disturbance as well.

I have seen some of the data about the bird kills and local impacts but is there any evidence that these wind farms can have an impact that is this widespread and lasting?

I know there are just as many on the other side claiming this is global warming and I am not asking about the cause of the Heat Dome just if there is any evidence of the windfarms having an effect that impacts more than local weather patterns.

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    @vartec - Trust me they kill birds. If you want to come visit during mirgration season and see the dead geese under some of them, its not pretty. I have also seen some evidence of local impact (<1 mile down wind) of the air patterns causing some local weather irregularities, though nothing that would cause me any concern if i lived that close. – Chad Jul 21 '11 at 15:01
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    I think clearing trees for farmland has a pretty big impact on weather also. Just saying. – Rex Kerr Jul 21 '11 at 19:56
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    @Chad - lots of things kill birds, and fish and other animals, due to global warming, due to sulfur pollution down wind from coal plants. – user3344 Jul 21 '11 at 19:57
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    @woodchips - I didnt say that they didnt. Buildings in general kill birds. When a 40 ton 20m blade rotating at 7-10 rpm ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_turbine_design ) hit a bird it kills them as dead as they would if they hit us. When it hits a flock trying to fly through it kills them. It has not had an impact on the number of geese returning, in fact the canadain goose population in Iowa is over sustainable levels for the last 5 years. Same for Illinois. – Chad Jul 21 '11 at 20:06
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    @Chad: I have no doubt that it kills some birds, I just don't believe that it's a number significant enough to impact bird population. – vartec Jul 22 '11 at 9:45
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The wikipedia article on Environmental impact of wind power has a good section on this:

One study reports simulations that show detectable changes in global climate for very high wind farm usage, on the order of 10% of the world's land area. Wind power has a negligible effect on global mean surface temperature, and it would deliver "enormous global benefits by reducing emissions of CO2 and air pollutants". Link to source


Another study published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics suggested that using wind turbines to meet 10 percent of global energy demand in 2100 could actually have a warming effect, causing temperatures to rise by one degree Celsius in the regions on land where the wind farms are installed, including a smaller increase in areas beyond those regions. This is due to the effect of wind turbines on both horizontal and vertical atmospheric circulation. Whilst turbines installed in water would have a cooling effect, the net impact on global surface temperatures would be an increase of 0.15 degrees Celsius. Author Ron Prinn cautioned against interpreting the study "as an argument against wind power, urging that it be used to guide future research". "We’re not pessimistic about wind," he said. "We haven’t absolutely proven this effect, and we’d rather see that people do further research". Link to source

The actual linked source articles are well worth the read.

From reading through them it appears the effect is a matter of scale and likely something that could be helped with advances in technology. It also talks about considering the benefit vs. impact.

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    It must be said that both these studies relate to wind farm usage far above current levels. – DJClayworth Aug 11 '11 at 1:49
  • @DJClayworth - You are absolutely correct, there are studies on a local level, however the OP asked about "is any evidence of the windfarms having an effect that impacts more than local weather patterns". So I thought he was asking on a much larger scale than local. – going Aug 11 '11 at 3:29
  • My comment wasn't intended to be a criticism of the answer, which is a good one. I just wanted to make sure someone doesn't draw the conclusion 'wind farms are affecting our weather' from it. – DJClayworth Aug 12 '11 at 15:18
  • @DJC - No problems. I just wanted to point out the reason I went for that scale because I thought that was what he was after. – going Aug 13 '11 at 3:08

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