Dust in the Wind

A couple years back I wrote a blog entry for Greenversations entitled the Wind in the Winnebago.  Guess what?  It is still windy here on the plains and therefore not surprising that the song Dust in the Wind is from the rock band Kansas.  It should also not be surprising that Region 7 states have tremendous wind energy potential; Kansas is second in the nation, Nebraska is fourth, Iowa is seventh, and Missouri is fourteenth (Source: DOE).   My boys got to see some windmills while visiting friends in central Kansas.

For the techies among you, earlier in May, EPA released a new version of its Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID).  This database is a comprehensive source of data on environmental characteristics of electric power generated in the United States, including wind generated power.  The nice thing about this data set is that it includes latitudes and longitudes associated with facilities, which makes it a snap to bring into a map….which brings me back to wind.

There are a lot of maps out there which, while nice to look, sometimes struggle to simply convey the concepts the creator had in mind (this is actually true for maps of all types).  Thankfully, there are some really nifty things being done in the area of map visualizations lately, including a particular cool one related to wind.  Check out the visualization below where some folks took surface wind data from the National Digital Forecast Database and displayed it in a fantastic way.  If you don’t see any motion on the map shown below you are probably using IE7.  Instead open the following link in Google Chrome:  http://hint.fm/wind/.  If this cool map doesn’t put some wind in your sails I don’t know what will.

About the Author: Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7’s Environmental Services Division.