Weatherwatch: global wind speeds weakening over land

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Studies show slowdown of up to 25%, while speeds over oceans are unaffected or faster

Across the world’s land masses, measured wind speeds have been mysteriously weakening for the past 50 or so years, in some regions slowing down by as much as 25%. Several studies have come to the same conclusion, using wind observations from weather stations across the world.

Strangely, the slowdown seems to be happening largely over land. Over the oceans the phenomenon is less pronounced, with some areas even showing an acceleration. One suggestion is that climate change is partly to blame by altering patterns in the global atmospheric circulation. Another suggestion is that urban development and more vegetation is creating a rougher ground surface that slows winds. However, winds have slowed down across Saudi Arabia, mostly desert, which probably means this is only part of the answer. Now an EU-funded project is trawling through historical records