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Earth Matters

May Puzzler Answer: Camp Springs Wind Farm

July 1st, 2016 by Adam Voiland

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Congratulations to Dan Mahr for being the first to solve our May puzzler. As Dan pointed out: “These are wind turbines, probably viewed from Landsat 8 OLI. The shadows of some turbines are visible from the diagonal roads connecting them.” Indeed, the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 captured this image of the Camp Springs Wind Farm in Scurry County, Texas, on April 29, 2015. You can learn more about these wind farms and surrounding landscape in our May 28, 2016, Image of the Day.

If you are interested in learning more about America’s wind infrastructure, check out WindFarm, an online database and interactive mapping tool from the U. S. Geological Survey. The database includes the location and other details about more than 47,000 wind turbines. Just choose one of the turbines and WindFarm will serve up key details (capacity, blade length, height, etc.) about it. The image below is a screenshot from WindFarm showing turbines that are part of the Camp Springs project in blue.

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To get a quick sense of where wind turbines in the United States are located, see the screenshot below. Turbines are shown with colored circles. The highest capacity turbines are red and yellow; lower capacity turbines are green and blue. Note the lack of turbines in the Southeast—a region known for having relatively weak winds. While development has lagged there as a result, the advent of a new generation of wind turbine with taller towers and more efficient blades is poised to change this.

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The U.S. Geological Survey developed the map by tapping publicly available data from the Federal Aviation Administration Digital Obstacle File and the using high-resolution aerial imagery to verify the locations of wind turbines. For more detailed description of the data used, see this report. For a more detailed overview of WindFarm, see this story and view this video.

Programming Note: The puzzler was on summer vacation in June, but it will return in July.

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