Wind turbines in winter
Wind turbines generate electric power by extracting energy from the wind. The author wonders why this phenomenon can't be used to slow Arctic thaw, preventing the release of climate-altering methane gas trapped in frozen tundra.

Stopping Runaway Climate Change

The author offers a plan to use the effects of climate change itself to mitigate its impact.

By Michael Lucking

Life as we know it will end by 2025.

Find that improbable?

Consider this then. The Arctic is heating up four times faster than the rest of the planet and this thawing has already begun. The consequences are ominous. The thawing of the Arctic will release enormous quantities of methane.

The Siberian bog has already started giving off small amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane. Many natural occurrences are self-regulating, but there is no self-regulation in global warming and more specifically, the Arctic warming. This is a run-away event; a kind of global domino effect.

Significant methane release in the Arctic will start impacting the climate within the next 10 years and the complete flip to a methane atmosphere will take an additional 5 years. Since, methane has 20 times the global warming effect as CO2, the release of methane from the Arctic will then trigger a release of methane from the ocean floor as the oceans warm. This second wave of methane release double-insures no plant or animal will survive. Plant and animal species are inter-dependent on each other. Lower level, plant and animal species die off first and this will result in the death of the higher level species.

2025 is neither a pessimistic nor an optimistic prediction but it is the mid-point of my range of years from 2020 to 2030. Predicting the future is difficult because we do not know the exact release rates of methane from the Arctic bogs and tundra.

My estimate of the Arctic temperature rise and release of methane takes into account:

-the burning of trees
-the increase in wind
-heat transfer by the wind
-less snow cover
-increasing CO2 and methane release from the Arctic

The burning of trees
Trees are the kindling which will add to Arctic warming. Today, forest fires have noticeably increased. Another ½ deg. Centigrade of temperature rise of the planet would be disastrous for forests with more pests and fires. The burning of trees is a vicious circle. Trees burn and winds increase which causes more lightning, which starts more forest fires, which are fanned by the increased winds.

When a tree burns five things happen.

  1. The tree, mainly carbon, burns and its’ carbon is released into the atmosphere as CO2.
  2. The planet warms from this burning.
  3. The tree is now gone and also gone is its ability to convert CO2 to O2, which is the tree’s photosynthesis, which converts the solar energy to carbon storage.
  4. The tree was a resistance to the flow of the winds and now it is gone. Winds will increase because the surface of the earth has become smoother, like a billiard ball.
  5. The buffeting of the Arctic cold air mass by the southern winds creates a heat transfer of cold air out of the Arctic and warm air into the Arctic. This heat transfer was slowed by the heat capacity (sink) of that tree. Now the tree is gone and the heat of the southern winds will stay warmer as they blow north and the cold northern winds will stay colder as they blow south. This is an increase of heat transfer.
The accelerated Arctic warming
In a previous article, I said wind was the cause of the Arctic’s 4 times warming. I dismissed the two other possible causes. These other possible causes are increased warm ocean currents or increased solar gain. The one part of solar gain that I could not dismiss is the ozone hole because I do not know whether it is an addition or subtraction to Arctic warming. I leave it to others to comment on the ozone hole. Also, as the Arctic warms, bare areas develop and these areas will absorb solar energy instead of reflecting it. An example is the Siberian bog. These bare areas will add to Arctic warming but it is an effect of Arctic warming, not the cause. I was surprised when, recently, MIT researchers had measured wind and said that winds have doubled when wind intensity and frequency are added together. This new information reinforces and corroborates my research that wind is the cause for Arctic warming

Winds are created by updrafts due to the earth’s surface temperature and the earths spin. These winds work against the resistance of the terrain which is mostly trees and hills. The hills and the earth’s spin have not changed. The reason the winds have doubled is because of an increase of surface temperature which is due to global warming and a reduction in resistance which is due to deforestation. As one would suspect, most winds are greatest near the equator where the earth’s velocity is greatest.

Parts of this article have been built on others work. For example, I am accepting, as reported, that there is a huge amount of frozen methane in the Arctic and under the oceans. There are several articles on the internet which discuss this methane and I have not seen any denials to this information.

The Solution
The Solution is to stop the Arctic thaw by reducing the winds and the resultant heat transfer by the winds.

Trees will block the wind but we do not have time to plant more trees and wait for them to grow. The only, feasible, solution to reduce wind speed is to build and install a massive number of wind turbines to get wind speeds down to pre-industrial levels.

The laws of thermodynamics do apply. A wind turbine takes energy from the wind therefore wind speed must be reduced by that amount of energy.

Obviously, wind turbines were not designed to slow the wind. They were designed to extract energy from the wind, but in this scenario, their primary mission is to slow the wind and stop the Arctic thaw. Their secondary mission is to provide us with energy so we can stop burning fossil fuels and start reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Co-incidentally, wind turbines are also today’s best financial solution to generate electricity and eliminate the burning of fossil fuels.

5 to 20 million large wind turbines are needed to stop the Arctic thaw.

My estimate is that 5 to 20 million large wind turbines would lower the wind speeds to pre-industrial levels and get the Arctic freezing again. That is a lot of wind turbines. To put it in perspective. Today, 10 million large wind turbines would supply mans’ energy needs. 5 to 20 million large wind turbines is a fairly wide prediction. That is because I lack the data and knowledge to zero in on a more exact number.

If we installed a wall of wind turbines, four deep, across Canada (7,000 km) with a 40 meter spacing, it would require 180,000 wind turbines. This is a good visualization but these 180,000 wind turbines could probably be more strategically placed. There is a lack of trees on the plains of North America and on the rocky coast of Newfoundland and Labrador where the trees are few, stunted and windswept. These are windy places and that is where the wind turbines would best be situated.

Comparing natural rough ground resistance to an equivalent wind farm resistance
Hurricanes and tornados build over flat surfaces, where there is a lack of wind resistance. This point is missed in the weather news. Commentators like to say that Hurricanes develop over warm water. I think this is misleading. Humid air will make rain but it has a net zero effect on wind. A warm surface, whether it is water or plains, is the engine that makes wind and it is the flat surfaces that allow these high wind speeds to develop.

I believe it was hurricane Dennis that grew in the Caribbean, swept across the Yucatan Peninsula, lost speed, then gained speed over the Gulf of Mexico and then lost speed as it hit the mainland. Dennis’ strength grew because it was over a warm, flat surface and lost speed once it hit a rugged surface of hills and trees. If we analyze these rugged surfaces and compare them to a rugged surface of wind generators, we may be able to quantify the numbers of wind generators needed to lower the wind speeds. So, imagine bulldozing the trees and hills from the Yucatan and replacing these hills and trees with 50,000 wind turbines. Would that be enough wind turbines to replace the resistance of the missing hills and trees? Obviously, we will not be bulldozing the trees and hills from the Yucatan and installing wind turbines. It is just an example but placing 100,000 wind turbines in tornado alley (US plains) would be a good idea to reduce or eliminate tornados.

Wind turbines in the Caribbean and Florida would slow hurricanes. Wind turbines up the eastern US coast would further slow the winds and wind turbines in Newfoundland and Labrador would further slow the wind. There would be an accumulating slowing effect caused by many wind turbine installations as they slow these Atlantic winds as they travel north to the Arctic.

Doing the Math
Ever try to suck a thick milkshake through a skinny straw? It is painfully slow because the straw is just too restrictive for good flow. Switch to one of those fat, McDonald’s type straws and it is easy to suck and the flow is good. Welcome to the world of flow. In the ventilation business, we design duct systems (pipe) by starting with knowing the desired air flow. Then, we just match the resistance of the duct to the horse-power of the blower. Mostly, we just pick the resistance values of duct and the horse-power ratings of the blowers from available tables. To make things easy, we also use a technique called "equivalent resistance". For example 1 duct elbow has the "equivalent resistance" to 5 feet of straight duct. I used this technique to substitute wind turbine resistance for tree resistance. On the Danish wind turbine association website, there was a brief mention of trees blocking the wind if they are in front of the wind turbines. It also states that trees with leaves restrict the air more than bare trees (as you would think). To me, a wind turbine looks more like a bare tree than one with leaves. As there are no tables for the resistance value of wind turbines or trees, I had to estimate an "equivalent resistance". A big wind turbine is 550 ft tall. One wind turbine should equal 50 trees. Multiply this by a factor of 10 due to strategic placement. A hill with trees might be worth 5 wind turbines and so on.

I estimated an equivalent number of wind turbines needed to replace the resistance lost through deforestation plus an additional number of wind turbines needed to counteract the effect of surface warming.

The basic flow formula

flow = square root of pressure / resistance

-Today an increase of surface temperature has increased the pressure of the wind
-Deforestation has decreased resistance
-According to research at MIT, winds speeds (flow) have doubled since 1970

I have estimated that increases in wind are due to surface temperature and deforestation by a ratio of 50/50.

(This is a very "ball park" estimate on my part based only on my experience in air flow. There are no resistance tables for trees or wind turbines and there is no data on increased pressure due to increased surface temperature. A 50/50 estimate is OK for this article. Later when we do some measuring and some computer modeling, we can do an adjustment.)

Wind turbines will replace the missing trees as resistance but also more wind turbines will be added to counteract the rise in surface temperature. This means that, to counteract the doubling of the winds since 1970, we only have to increase resistance by 50% for trees plus 18% for surface temperature. This is very good news since, as per the formula, increasing resistance has an exponential effect on counteracting the increased pressure due to increased surface temperature.

Reducing the wind = reducing the heat transfer

The winds that transfer heat into the Arctic are mostly, "back and forth", buffeting type winds. Warm winds blow north into the Arctic and cold winds blow south from the Arctic. There may even be some balance. A Siberian northern wind may be balanced by a Canadian southern wind? It is helpful to visualize the Arctic as a big bowl of cold air that is being sloshed out because of this increased buffeting.

The obstacles on the ground (hills, trees, rocks, etc.) create turbulence and a mixing effect. They also have heat storage capacity. The ground is warmed by the sun and results in updrafts. Low clouds and fog are a sign of cooling due to mixing. Precipitation adds to turbulence and mixing. Precipitation also transfers heat (or coldness) to the ground. The theory is that the winds transport the heat. At first glance, heat transfer is quite simple. Most of the solar energy heats the surface of earth. If the solar radiation hits snow, most of it will be reflected back into space. If this solar radiation hits dirt, it will be absorbed by the dirt as heat. The dirt will heat the air, this air will updraft and the winds will transport this heat. If the winds are strong this heat will be transported further. This heat transfer system becomes more complicated with the mixing of warm and cold air flows as well as the heat transfer of air to surface whether it is trees, ground or water. Further, there is precipitation and evaporation that transfers heat (or coldness) to ground.

Analyzing the Wind
There is a lot happening within the first 1,000 ft. of elevation.

A 550ft. wind turbine will have a speed reducing effect on the wind speed of the first 1,000 ft. of elevation, but what happens above? The second 1,000 ft of elevation has higher wind speeds but it is slowed a little as it drags across the top of the lower 1,000 ft. The density of air decreases with elevation. At 5,000 ft. of elevation the air is 14% less dense than at sea-level. The temperature of air also decreases with elevation, because it’s only source of heat is provided by the updraft from the lower level.

This second 1,000 ft of elevation should provide a lot less Arctic heating. Wind speed increases but it is probably less turbulent because there are no obstructions, to make it turbulent. Only updrafts can cause turbulence in the second 1,000 ft of elevation.

At 3,000 ft of elevation, there is more wind speed, less turbulence and a further reduction in temperature.

Predicting the effectiveness of wind turbines in reducing wind speed and the resultant heat transfer into the Arctic by computer modeling and measuring.

Wind turbines will reduce wind speed. So, how effective are large wind turbines in slowing the wind and reducing the heat transfer into the Arctic? There’s certainly lots of room for improvement in my estimate.

In the future, we must establish accuracy in predicting our wind turbine needs. Accurately measuring any decrease of wind speed with the 20,000 or so wind turbines currently installed may be difficult. We may need 200,000 or 2,000,000 wind turbines to get an accurate measurement to determine how many wind turbines are needed to get the wind speed down. In addition to wind speed, we need to measure future global and Arctic warming to see the trends and how we are doing.

Researchers do their global warming predicting with computer models but these models are only as good as the model formulas being entered. To predict future Arctic warming researchers must put into their models: the burning of trees, the increase in wind, heat transfer, less snow cover and increasing CO2 and methane release from the Arctic which add to global warming. A special computer model for the Arctic may be required.

By computer modeling and comparing our model prediction to actual future measurements, we can check the accuracy of our computer model. As more accurate wind speed measurements are taken, this data gets fed back into the model to recheck.

We need to know wind speed reductions due to wind turbines and we need to know heat transfer reductions due to wind speed reductions. Heat transfer reductions will be shown by the Arctic temperature reduction.

At this late date we need to go to war against wind speed and also win the war on global warming. It would be wonderful if "big oil" companies and "big oil" countries realized that the age of burning oil is over and their future is in using oil for non-combustion uses. Now that wind turbines are firmly established as the future direction, "big oil" should be massively investing in wind turbine companies. By investing in wind turbines, they can have their cake and eat it too. If they do not, it may be necessary for Governments to commandeer wind generator companies and finance the quadrupling (X4) of yearly production. With large investments, it is possible to finance the manufacture and installation of 10 million large wind turbines within 5 years.

My theory is that wind turbines will reduce wind speed and result in a decrease of heat transfer into the Arctic. This would keep the methane frozen and not allow it to get into the atmosphere. This article is built mostly on others work. What I have added is my expertise on air flow and heat transfer. I have this, what I call, 2+2=4 ability which is the combining of research into a picture. Also, it should be noted that I have no reason to promote wind turbines. In fact, all my money is tied to the manufacture of energy conservation products which have moved from earth’s #1 in priority to earth’s #2 priority, now that wind turbines have become earth’s #1 priority.

We may have to install more wind turbines for resistance to the wind than what is required for global energy needs. What would we do with the extra energy if 20 million large wind turbines are needed? If we combine a dehumidifier (heat pump) with an air to air heat exchanger, we get a very efficient piece of equipment which is capable of condensing water from desert air.

Then we plant the desert.

Times Article Viewed: 10869
Published: 01-Nov-2005


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