Using the accident on the freeway metaphor again, Archer said that divergence is similar to what happens when cars finally get past the accident: everybody speeds up. It causes downward motion, attracting air coming down, which is drier and suppresses precipitation.
I was wondering what if that would also happen when there is an offshore farm? In numerical simulations with a model domain set up to cover the coast of Texas and Louisiana, Archer found there would be regional convergence before the storm hit the hypothetical farms, which would "squeeze out" precipitation before getting close to the coast.
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"Think about convergence like when there's traffic on a freeway and everybody is going fast and then all of a sudden, there's an accident and everybody slows down.
You get a convergence of cars that backs up because everybody slows down.
Archer explained that wind farms can help mitigate the precipitation by affecting two large factors that cause precipitation: wind convergence and divergence.
The strong hurricane winds slow down when they hit wind turbines, which is an effect known as convergence and enhances precipitation.
The United States currently has just five offshore wind turbines, but in Europe, where the industry is more developed, there are offshore wind farms with more than 100 turbines, which Archer said she would consider a normal number for an offshore wind energy project.
Still, with this study showing that offshore wind farms can be of benefit to coastal communities not just by providing clean energy, but also by reducing the effects of hurricanes, Archer said that she is hopeful the numbers will increase in the future.