S81 Wind turbine constellations and their effects on local weather and soil conditions

Sunday, 23 January 2011
Joshua A. Holland, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; and K. A. Demchak, J. P. Martin, M. F. Henschen, E. D. Larson, B. M. Doogs, M. D. Rudkin, L. R. Rhudy, and B. N. Herrholtz

Handout (1.7 MB)

Agricultural operations located within the vicinity of wind production establishments have recently posed concern about the deficiency of soil moisture. These operations state a lack of moisture within field plats return smaller, annual harvest yields in comparison to yields retrieved prior to the installation of wind turbines. The behavior of the atmosphere and its fluid motion is a primary factor when an atmospheric scientist forecasts weather phenomena. Minor research has been pursued in how wind establishments affect local weather systems. As knowledge of lower level winds plays an important factor with forecasting the weather, constellations of wind turbines may locally affect both weather and soil conditions around their vicinity.

Our experiment addresses the anthropogenic effects in the production of wind power with regards to agricultural operations. The design of the experiment encompasses Meadow Lake Wind Farm, located within northwestern Indiana, over a two week period. By strategically employing operational weather equipment, observations and measurements of temperature, pressure, relative humidity, wind speed, and precipitation are monitored and recorded. Also, soil samples are collected and analyzed via a scientific approach, specifically noting the amount of water within, and the temperature of, each soil sample. Minor research pursues substantiation in whether turbine constellations affect local weather systems. Measurements taken with operational weather equipment coalesce with mathematical reasoning to supply knowledge to the meteorological community.

We hypothesize the fluid motion will become more turbulent from the rotation of the wind turbines. Microscale eddies are expected to alter thermodynamic variables within the experimental site causing drier conditions near the crest of the vadose zone. Finally, we expect the highest values of soil moisture to be near the upwind side of the wind farm, with values decreasing as measurements progress through the experimental site.

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