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Abstract

Wind turbines are becoming increasingly widespread in the United States as the world looks for cleaner sources of energy. Scientists, policymakers, and citizens have strong opinions regarding the positive and negative effects of wind energy projects, and there is a great deal of misinformation about wind energy circulating on the Web and other media sources. The purpose of this study is to gain a better understanding of how the rotation of hundreds of turbines can influence local weather conditions within a wind farm and in the surrounding areas. This experiment measures temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind speed, wind direction, relative humidity, and evaporation with five weather instruments at Meadow Lake Wind Farm located in White, Jasper, and Benton Counties, Indiana, from November 4 through November 18, 2010. The data show that as wind passes throughout the wind farm, the air warms during the overnight and early morning hours and cools during daytime hours. Observed lower humidity rates and higher evaporation rates downwind also demonstrate that the air dries out as it travels through the wind farm. Further research over multiple seasons is necessary to examine the effects of warmer nighttime temperatures and drier conditions progressively downwind of the installation. Nevertheless, wind turbines did not negatively affect local weather patterns in our small-scale research and may actually prevent frost, which could have important positive implications for farmers by potentially prolonging the growing season.