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The impact of wind turbines on microclimates around crops

NSF Award:

Iowa EPSCoR: Harnessing Energy Flows in the Biosphere to Build Sustainable Energy Systems  (Iowa State University)

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Based on two years of data, researchers at Iowa State University have discovered that wind turbines alter microclimates around crops. During the study period, Gene Takle and his team took measurements around a wind farm in Iowa to find out how turbines change the micro-climate downwind.

To determine the effect of turbines on local microclimates, Takle oversaw the measurements taken upwind and downwind of the turbines by graduate student Dan Rajewski and scientists from the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Measurements included temperature, moisture, turbulence and wind speed as well as carbon dioxide.

The data indicated that the turbines act like giant fans. Temperatures downwind from the turbines are slightly cooler during the day and warmer at night than upwind. The team also found that more turbulence occurred downwind from the turbines.

Because wind turbines are a relatively new technology, little data exists on the effect of wind turbines on crops. This research and future studies will help farmers, especially those in the Midwest that engage in intensive agriculture next door to wind turbines. Iowa's climate offers a unique laboratory to study the relationship between weather extremes, such as ice and snow, on wind turbines.  

Takle is a member of the resource characterization plank of the Iowa Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research's (EPSCoR) wind energy platform.

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  • researchers measure sound levels to document wind turbine noise
Researchers measure sound levels to document wind turbine noise.
Gene Takle, Iowa State University

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