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posted by Cactus on Friday February 28 2014, @03:31AM   Printer-friendly
from the breaking-wind dept.

Fluffeh writes:

"At the recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford, spoke in a session on renewable energy.

Jacobson was invited to speak at the conference because he has developed a roadmap to convert the entire U.S. to renewable energy using primarily wind, water, and solar generated energy. His detailed analysis includes looking at costs and benefits on a per-state basis, including the obvious benefits to human health from reduced pollution. One of his slides showed a very unexpected benefit, however: taming of destructive hurricanes with the help of offshore wind farms.

Jakobson's study, co-authored by Cristina L. Archer and Willett Kempton, has been published in Nature Climate Change (full text available here)."

 
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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by hopdevil on Friday February 28 2014, @03:57AM

    by hopdevil (3356) on Friday February 28 2014, @03:57AM (#8252)

    I fully advocate forward thinking in terms of climate control, insofar as it means understanding and doing what it takes to keep the planet as normal as that makes sense. But has it occurred to anyone that hurricanes might be necessary phenomenon in a stable system?

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by unitron on Friday February 28 2014, @04:14AM

    by unitron (70) on Friday February 28 2014, @04:14AM (#8260) Journal

    Do you by any chance live nowhere near the east coast?

    I'm not saying that you're wrong, although I don't see how one could run controlled experiments to find out either way.

    If someone who knows more about weather and climate science than I do wants to explain why you might be right, I'd be very interested to hear what they have to say.

    Right now I'm thinking "Generate power *and* keep the Outer Banks from being destroyed?" sounds like win-win.

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    • (Score: 5, Informative) by Fluffeh on Friday February 28 2014, @04:48AM

      by Fluffeh (954) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 28 2014, @04:48AM (#8280) Journal

      Tornadoes and Cyclones are actually a method for transferring a huge amount of HEAT away from where it is. It is basically a global heat distribution system. The more energy is pent up in the equatorial belt, the more it needs to be distributed away and towards the poles.

      If this system potentially drains these cells of the energy they contain by sapping at the wind energy it's a good thing - but if that heat isn't being dissapated as needed it might not actually be as good as it seems in the long term. Too much heat in the oceans leads to some very dire consequences.

      • (Score: 2, Funny) by ls671 on Friday February 28 2014, @07:57AM

        by ls671 (891) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 28 2014, @07:57AM (#8363) Homepage

        Well, just connect those wind mills to giant electric heaters in the north and south pole and there you go. The heat will be transferred without the need for hurricanes ;-)

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      • (Score: 1) by similar_name on Friday February 28 2014, @08:27PM

        by similar_name (71) on Friday February 28 2014, @08:27PM (#8748)
        >Tornadoes and Cyclones are actually a method for transferring a huge amount of HEAT away from where it is.

        IANAM, but isn't the transfer of heat what creates the tropical cyclones? In other words, the storms don't move the heat, the heat moving is what creates the storms. I wonder, since these will presumably be within 100 miles of the shore, these storms dissipate when they hit land, how much will it change global patterns? And with climate change, it's like getting energy from fossil fuels twice. That last one is a joke, sort of ;)
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by frojack on Friday February 28 2014, @08:42PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 28 2014, @08:42PM (#8758) Journal

    But has it occurred to anyone that hurricanes might be necessary phenomenon in a stable system?

    Necessary or not, they've always been with us. Earth's topology pretty much just breeds them by its very nature.

    Personally, I doubt that a wind farm will make that much of a difference, because you would need to cover the earth with turbines to make a difference. Hurricanes are total atmosphere events, they are not limited to the surface. Soaking up a little wind here or there won't make much difference, especially when it is necessary to null angle the blades to keep the turbines from self destructing in very high winds.
    Note, that this has been studied, and the results indicate windfarms don't alter the local environment [smithsonianmag.com].

    But you do raise a point, that I think too many dismiss out of hand when the subject is their pet "save the world" theory.

    Namely, that you can harness the sun, wind, tides, rivers, and oceans, and have ZERO adverse effect. Yes, all these methods use energy that was arriving on earth in the form of sunlight anyway, and was going to "go to waste".

    But we don't know that, all we know is that our current levels of utilization aren't sufficient to make much of a difference. But when we put in the first dam to grind flour, we had no idea that bigger and bigger dams could deform the earth's crust [mst.edu], kill off salmon runs, etc.

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