Three Iowa State researchers contributed their expertise in modeling North America's climate to a study to be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres. The study – led by Sara C. Pryor, a professor of atmospheric science at Indiana University Bloomington – found that wind speeds across the country have decreased by an average of .5 percent to 1 percent per year since 1973.
'The study found that across the country wind speeds were decreasing – more in the East than in the West, and more in the Northeast and the Great Lakes,' said Gene Takle, an Iowa State professor of geological and atmospheric sciences and agronomy.
In Iowa, a state that ranks second in the country for installed wind power capacity, Takle said the study found annual wind speed declines that matched the average for the rest of the country.
The study's findings made headlines across the country. Most of those stories focused on the potential implications for the wind power industry.
But Iowa State's team of climate researchers – Takle; Ray Arritt, a professor of agronomy; and Bill Gutowski, a professor of geological and atmospheric sciences – say the study raised other issues and questions, too.
The study looked at eight sets of wind data going back to 1973 and up to 2005: actual wind speed measurements from anemometers; a hybrid of measurements and computerized climate models; and two different regional climate models. Iowa State researchers contributed a regional model of North America's climate they've worked with since the early 1990s. It's a community model that researchers across the globe share and use. The Iowa State researchers have used the model to run long-term climate simulations.
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