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Ambushed by the popular press

Alarming headlines in the general American press last month - later repeated in some renewable energy media - claiming that the US wind resource is in decline are soberly refuted by Garrad Hassan, a global wind power consultancy with 25 years experience of wind resource assessment.

The headlines relate to promotion of an article to be published next month in the Journal of Geophysical Research, reporting the results of a scientific paper titled "Wind Speed Trends in the Contiguous US."

From Garrad Hassan, Lars Landberg says the press has distorted the findings of the study. "The conclusions which can be drawn from the work depend on the data selected - some data sets show decreasing trends while others show increasing trends or no clear trend. As might be expected, results also differ by region," he says. "Contrary to what has been reported in the press, at present the direction of any wind speed trend is unknown, neither up nor down."

Landberg points out that, as the authors of the paper state, further work to understand the messages indicated by the different data sets is needed before any definitive conclusions can be drawn from the study. "We feel the popular press has ambushed some serious scientific work, selected one result and sensationalised it," says Landberg.

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