Data Assimilation Seminar

Prof. Eugenia Kalnay (Jan. 18, 2019, 11:00-)

Affiliation U of Maryland
Title Can large-scale solar and wind farms create a significant climate change? A model experiment in the Sahara

Wind and solar farms offer a major pathway to clean, renewable energy. However, these farms would change the land surface properties, and, hence may lead to unintended climate changes. We used a climate model with dynamic vegetation and show that large-scale installations of wind and solar farms lead to a local temperature increase, and more than a two-fold precipitation increase, especially in the Sahel, through increased surface friction and decreased albedo. The resulting increase in vegetation further increases precipitation, creating a positive albedo-precipitation-vegetation that contributes ~80% of the precipitation increase for the wind farms. This local enhancement is scale dependent and is particular to the Sahara, with small impacts in other deserts. The wind and solar panels would generate ~3TW and 79TW of electric power/year respectively, compared with the total human energy consumption of 18 TW/year, allowing to address climate change.

Based on the paper published on 7 September 2018 in Science:
This paper was downloaded from Science more than 100K times over the two weeks it was open access, and Altmetric found it to be one of the top 100 scientific (including medical) papers in the world, and among the top 10 scientific climate papers that were published in 2018.

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