Wind farms dry surface soil in temporal and spatial variation

Sci Total Environ. 2023 Jan 20;857(Pt 1):159293. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159293. Epub 2022 Oct 6.


Wind energy is renewable and clean; however, the long-term operation of wind turbines can affect local climates. Soil moisture affects ecosystem balance, so determining the impact of wind farms on soil moisture is important. However, there has been little research on this, and only the impacts of wind farms on climate and vegetation have been considered. This study focuses on wind farms located in the grasslands of China. We analyzed changes in soil moisture in different wind directions and seasons and then judged the impacts of wind turbine operation on soil moisture. Our research shows that the operation of wind turbines will cause significant drying of soil, and this drought effect differs significantly according to season and wind direction. Our results show that 1) the soil moisture within wind farms decreases most significantly, with a decrease of 4.4 % observed; 2) in summer and autumn, the declines in soil moisture in the downwind direction are significantly greater than those in the upwind direction, with the opposite occurring in spring. (3) Wind farms aggravate the soil drying in grassland areas, which may have impacts on grassland ecosystems. Therefore, when building wind farms, we need to better understand their impacts on the environment.

Keywords: Drought; Soil moisture; Wind farm; Wind turbine.

MeSH terms

  • Ecosystem*
  • Energy-Generating Resources
  • Farms
  • Soil*
  • Wind


  • Soil