Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wind Turbine Interference on Radar

Wind farm development has seen resistance from a variety of people/groups. Some environmentalists fear the safety of bats and birds caught in the path of the blades. Local residents of potential developments fear blocked views, noise, and even flickering of shadows.

Another concern, is the disruption wind turbines can have on radar. Here is a recent ABC News article discussing the Pentagon's concern that wind farms may disrupt radar systems, and could be a homeland security threat.

If wind turbines stood still, there would be no problem. Modern radar is programed to ignore stationary objects. However, with tip speeds over 200 mph, large wind turbines create a signature that can be reported on radar. Above is an image from the NOAA, the star represents a Doppler radar tower, and the circled area is the disruption from a local wind farm. Looks like a thunder storm is moving in right? According to the NOAA:
"The rotating turbines also impact the velocity base data as you can see from the below image.  This velocity data is used by radar operators and by a variety of algorithms in the radar's data processors to detect certain storm characteristics such as mesocyclones, tornado vortex signatures, and relative storm motion."
With the National Weather Service, there is a concern as a severe weather event such as a flash flood could roll through undetected as it is passed off as wind turbine interference. Here are a couple more interesting images.

Photo Credits: NOAA National Weather Forecast Office Buffalo, NY

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