A recent study by Sara Pryor, an atmospheric scientist at Indiana University, showed that wind speeds in the United States have slowed since 1973. Dropping more than 10 percent over 10 years in some areas, Midwest and eastern states are being affected most, with the highest reductions occurring in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Virginia, Louisiana, Georgia, northern Maine and western Montana. Speeds could continue to drop an additional 10 percent over the next four decades, reducing wind energy generation by 27 percent, the study says.
While scientists debate the issue, it has been suggested that these wind speed changes could be the result of global warming. With an article set to be released in August 2009, the authors say it is too early to know. Actual wind speed reductions have been proven in the United States, Australia and Europe, but global warming has not yet been proven a cause. Other factors such as wind measuring instruments, computer models and growth of trees and buildings could affect accurate readings of wind speed.
Ironically, development of wind power industries is on the rise in the effort to prevent continued global warming. Few states blessed with emerging wind energy are concerned; nor will they modify plans given that this research is still in the early stages. A new study by NextGen Research anticipates that the wind energy generation will continue to grow, with help from China's renewable energy industry, government support and international goals.
Scientists will have to continue researching all possibilities to know how likely the case is.
More information will be found in the August issue of Journal of Geophysical Research.