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Wind speeds in Kansas show slow down, study says

How about this for a new state slogan: Kansas, not as windy as you think? A study of long-term wind speed trends suggests just that - winds across the United States, in Kansas and a few other states in particular, have been steadily decreasing since 1973. The study, to be published in August in the Journal of Geophysical Research, is the first of its kind in the U.S. Using data from wind monitors, the study found that winds had slowed across the U.S. by about 10 percent over 30 years.

How about this for a new state slogan: Kansas, not as windy as you think?

A study of long-term wind speed trends suggests just that - winds across the United States, in Kansas and a few other states in particular, have been steadily decreasing since 1973. The study, to be published in August in the Journal of Geophysical Research, is the first of its kind in the U.S.

Using data from wind monitors, the study found that winds had slowed across the U.S. by about 10 percent over 30 years.

While Missouri winds have shown only modest changes, Kansas winds have slowed by about 15 percent, said the study's co-author, Eugene Takle, a professor of atmospheric science at Iowa State University.

Tell that to Linda Hessman, who has been battling winds at her Dodge City, Kan., farm for more than 40 years.

"We all joke about the fact that forecasters say it's going to be breezy. What's breezy?" Hessman jokes. "I guess windy is 40 miles per hour."

Hessman, who ran a custom hay business with her husband until they retired a few years ago, hasn't noticed any change in the wind.

"They say Dodge City is windier than Chicago," she said. "We average 14 mile-per-hour winds 365 days a year. ... It's just the way it is... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

How about this for a new state slogan: Kansas, not as windy as you think?

A study of long-term wind speed trends suggests just that - winds across the United States, in Kansas and a few other states in particular, have been steadily decreasing since 1973. The study, to be published in August in the Journal of Geophysical Research, is the first of its kind in the U.S.

Using data from wind monitors, the study found that winds had slowed across the U.S. by about 10 percent over 30 years.

While Missouri winds have shown only modest changes, Kansas winds have slowed by about 15 percent, said the study's co-author, Eugene Takle, a professor of atmospheric science at Iowa State University.

Tell that to Linda Hessman, who has been battling winds at her Dodge City, Kan., farm for more than 40 years.

"We all joke about the fact that forecasters say it's going to be breezy. What's breezy?" Hessman jokes. "I guess windy is 40 miles per hour."

Hessman, who ran a custom hay business with her husband until they retired a few years ago, hasn't noticed any change in the wind.

"They say Dodge City is windier than Chicago," she said. "We average 14 mile-per-hour winds 365 days a year. ... It's just the way it is around here."

The subject is more than just a curiosity, however. A decrease in wind could hurt agriculture and increase pollution in cities.

Most people won't be able to feel the difference in the wind since it has been changing steadily through the years, said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University.

"You notice a blustery, windy day compared to a wind-free day," he said. "You notice day-to-day fluctuations rather than the trend."

Kansas is the third-windiest state in the U.S. The average wind speed in Kansas is 11 to 12 mph, said Mary Knapp, Kansas state climatologist. This year's fastest wind gust so far hit 120 mph at the Konza Prairie Natural Research Area near Manhattan. North of the Kansas State University football field, a wind monitor recorded a 90 mph gust about one minute in length.

Even though it hasn't been published yet, the study has caught the attention of climatologists worldwide who have questions about its methodology.

The research findings were unexpected because computer modeling used in studies in the past had not shown a change in wind speeds in the U.S., several experts said.

"There is no expectation that the winds over the U.S. should be changing, so if they are, that would be interesting," said Gavin Schmidt, a NASA climate scientist from New York.

The study is "one of those neat, intriguing things, and if it prompts people to look more closely at the data or what else is going on or come up with a reason why we were a little bit fooled by the original data, it will all be for the good."

The scientists selected 193 weather stations across the country that had available the stations' histories, the height of the anemometers and evidence that the station had not moved more than 3.2 miles during the study period.

Many more studies would be needed to bear out the findings of this one, Schmidt said.

But if the trends are valid, they could affect more than just the breezes people feel.

Slower winds in Kansas could have a major effect on agriculture, Takle said. Reduced winds mean less atmospheric interaction with the Earth's surface and vegetation. Hot, dry winds blowing across the surface are going to suck out a lot of moisture from the surface, Takle said. But if the wind is reduced, that means less evaporation and a more humid climate.


Source: http://www.kansascity.com/1...

JUL 20 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21302-wind-speeds-in-kansas-show-slow-down-study-says
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