The Observed Impacts of Wind Farms on Local Vegetation Growth in Northern China

The Observed Impacts of Wind Farms on Local Vegetation Growth in Northern China

“This research provides significant observational evidence that wind farms can inhibit the growth and productivity of the underlying vegetation.”

Wind turbines in Zhangjiakou
Wind turbines in Zhangjiakou, North China’s Hebei province.

By Bijian Tang et al.

Abstract

Wind farms (WFs) can affect the local climate, and local climate change may influence underlying vegetation. Some studies have shown that WFs affect certain aspects of the regional climate, such as temperature and rainfall. However, there is still no evidence to demonstrate whether WFs can affect local vegetation growth, a significant part of the overall assessment of WF effects.

In this research, based on the moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) vegetation index, productivity and other remote-sensing data from 2003 to 2014, the effects of WFs in the Bashang area of Northern China on vegetation growth and productivity in the summer (June–August) were analyzed.

The results showed that:

  1. WFs had a significant inhibiting effect on vegetation growth, as demonstrated by decreases in the leaf area index (LAI), the enhanced vegetation index (EVI), and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) of approximately 14.5%, 14.8%, and 8.9%, respectively, in the 2003–2014 summers. There was also an inhibiting effect of 8.9% on summer gross primary production (GPP) and 4.0% on annual net primary production (NPP) coupled with WFs;
  2. and the major impact factors might be the changes in temperature and soil moisture: WFs suppressed soil moisture and enhanced water stress in the study area.

This research provides significant observational evidence that WFs can inhibit the growth and productivity of the underlying vegetation.

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