Climate Change Study Projects Global Wind Energy Winners and Losers
The global study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, explored the impact of temperature rises on wind energy, projecting an overall southward shift in wind power.
"There's been a lot of research looking at the potential climate impact of energy production transformations—like shifting away from fossil fuels toward renewables," Kristopher Karnauskas, lead author and researcher at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said in a press release. "But not as much focuses on the impact of climate change on energy production by weather-dependent renewables, like wind energy."
By the end of the century, areas such as the U.S., the UK, Russia, Japan and countries along the Mediterranean will all see major changes in wind energy, in scenarios of both high and medium carbon emissions, according to the study. In light of a global fivefold jump in wind energy over the last decade, this latest research will be a significant setback for some regions. The central U.S., for example, could see the power of wind energy fall by nearly one fifth.
Japan, which is in the midst of a wind farm increase, will likely witness the largest aggregate loss of wind energy—58 kW, or about 10 percent of its total wind energy. The UK is predicted to lose 36 kW, or five percent of its wind energy.
But the Southern Hemisphere, where there is more ocean than land, may see a boost in wind energy. Brazil, West Africa, South Africa and Australia are all hotspots for likely wind power increases, the researchers found. Since land warms faster than the surrounding, much larger oceans, there will be an increased temperature gradient, which will create wind power hotspots in these areas. "The more it warms, ironically, the more it increases the wind power there," Karnauskas told the Guardian.
"Europe is a big question mark," Karnauskas added in the release. "We have no idea what we'll see there. That's almost scary, given that Europe is producing a lot of wind energy already."
In the northern mid-latitude sections of Earth, the major driver of wind is the temperature difference between the Arctic and the tropics. With the rapid warming of the Arctic, the difference between the two areas is diminishing.
As the world continues to warm, harnessing wind power will be increasingly critical for countries racing to meet their emission reduction standards set by the Paris agreement, the press release noted.
"The climate models are too uncertain about what will happen in highly productive wind energy regions, like Europe, the Central United States, and Inner Mongolia," Julie Lundquist, a professor at University of Colorado Boulder and co-author of the study, noted in the release. "We need to use different tools to try to forecast the future—this global study gives us a roadmap for where we should focus next with higher-resolution tools."
- Most Meat Will Be Plant-Based or Lab-Grown in 20 Years, Analysts ... ›
- Lab-Grown Meat Debate Overlooks Cows' Range of Use Worldwide ... ›
- Will Plant-Based Meat Become the New Fast Food? - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
One city in New Zealand knows what its priorities are.
Dunedin, the second largest city on New Zealand's South Island, has closed a popular road to protect a mother sea lion and her pup, The Guardian reported.
piyaset / iStock / Getty Images Plus
- No Country Is Protecting Children's Health, Major Study Finds ... ›
- 'Every Child Born Today Will Be Profoundly Affected by Climate ... ›
By Jeff Masters, Ph.D.
Earth had its second-warmest year on record in 2020, just 0.02 degrees Celsius (0.04°F) behind the record set in 2016, and 0.98 degrees Celsius (1.76°F) above the 20th-century average, NOAA reported January 14.
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for 2020, the second-warmest year the globe has seen since record-keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA. Record-high annual temperatures over land and ocean surfaces were measured across parts of Europe, Asia, southern North America, South America, and across parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. No land or ocean areas were record cold for the year. NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information
Figure 2. Total ocean heat content (OHC) in the top 2000 meters from 1958-2020. Cheng et al., Upper Ocean Temperatures Hit Record High in 2020, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences
Figure 3. Departure of sea surface temperature from average in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific (5°N-5°S, 170°W-120°W). Sea surface temperature were approximately one degree Celsius below average over the past month, characteristic of moderate La Niña conditions. Tropical Tidbits
- NASA and NOAA: Last Decade Was the Hottest on Record - EcoWatch ›
- Earth Just Had Its Hottest September Ever Recorded, NOAA Says ... ›
In December of 1924, the heads of all the major lightbulb manufacturers across the world met in Geneva to concoct a sinister plan. Their talks outlined limits on how long all of their lightbulbs would last. The idea is that if their bulbs failed quickly customers would have to buy more of their product. In this video, we're going to unpack this idea of purposefully creating inferior products to drive sales, a symptom of late-stage capitalism that has since been coined planned obsolescence. And as we'll see, this obsolescence can have drastic consequences on our wallets, waste streams, and even our climate.
- Consumer Society No Longer Serves Our Needs - EcoWatch ›
- Electronic Waste: New EU Rules Target Throwaway Culture ... ›