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Posted Tue Oct 19 2010: from National Geographic:
Winds Slowing Around the World, Study Suggests
Around the world, surface winds are slowing down, a new study says. Strangely enough, the alleged culprits aren't new buildings but new trees. The easing breezes--if also detected higher up--could affect movements of air pollution but may not necessarily give the wind power industry a case of the doldrums, experts say. For the new study, published Sunday by the journal Nature Geoscience, scientists analyzed nearly 30 years' worth of wind speed data collected from more than 800 land-based weather stations, mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, where long-term wind-data collection has been most reliable. The average annual surface wind speed in countries in mid-northern latitudes--including the United States, China, and Russia--had dropped by as much as 15 percent, from about 10.3 miles (17 kilometers) an hour to about 9 miles (14 kilometers) an hour, the study found.... But reforestation can explain only about 60 percent of the wind speed reductions, the study says. Changes in air circulation due to global warming may be responsible for the rest, but more studies are needed to be sure, according to Vautard.
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