Research highlight

Surface wind slow-down

Nature Geoscience

October 18, 2010

An increase in land-surface roughness has contributed to the recent slow-down of near-surface wind speeds in the Northern Hemisphere reports a study published online this week in Nature Geoscience. This finding could have implications for future wind-power production.

Robert Vautard and colleagues analysed terrestrial wind speeds, primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, over the past three decades. They noted that surface winds declined by 5-15% during this period. Model simulations indicate that an increase in surface roughness — due to an increase in vegetation cover — could explain 25-60% of the stilling in the northern mid-latitudes.

The authors suggest that if surface winds continue to slow, there will be a major loss of wind-power production.

doi: 10.1038/ngeo979

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