Wind turbines, designed as an alternative to fossil fuels, still contribute to climate change due to the way they redistribute heat and moisture in the atmosphere, a study published on Thursday said.
Researchers from Harvard University found that powering the entire US with wind energy would cause a 0.54°C rise in ground temperature in the area where the turbines were planted and a 0.24°C increase across the continental US.
“Wind beats coal by any environmental measure, but that doesn’t mean that its impacts are negligible,” said David Keith, an engineering and public policy professor and senior author of the study, published in Joule.
By comparison, the average global temperature has risen by approximately 1°C since the end of the 19th century.
The Paris climate accord calls upon countries to limit temperature increases to between 1.5°C to 2°C.
Previous studies have also examined the possible effects of wind turbines on climate.
One recent study, published in the journal Science, said that covering an area of the Sahara Desert with wind turbines would affect local temperature, rainfall and in turn, vegetation.
The Harvard researchers said that installing solar panels would have an effect about 10 times smaller than wind turbines for the same energy generation rate.
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