3.1 Renewable Energy in a Coastal Domain: Observations and Modeling

Wednesday, 26 January 2011: 11:00 AM
4C-4 (Washington State Convention Center)
Len Pietrafesa, Center for Marine & Wetland Studies, Conway, SC; and P. Gayes, M. Peng, and K. Ma

Solid estimates of the naturally occurring levels of wind and marine-hydrodynamic energy in the coastal zones of the United States are not presently available. There is a dearth of observing stations including federal, state and other assets in near coastal and inland waters nationally, so little data is available. Plus, as coastal systems are interactively coupled in the real world, what is required is a suite of interactively coupled, atmospheric, ocean, coastal ocean and land based models that will improve existing capabilities of mathematically estimating renewable energy. There are compelling, national, regional and local needs for the most reliable energy and thus power forecasts in and over the Atlantic and Pacific Seaboards, the Gulfs of Mexico, Maine and Alaska, Hawaii and the Great Lakes, and in and over the coastal ocean, estuaries and harbor regions of the Nation. The most reliable forecasts are those that take advantage of modern, advanced numerical modeling, observing system data, and data assimilation (DA). It is now possible to predict all environmental state variables in the coastal areas of the Nation. However, the availability and use of global ocean data sets are much farther along in maturity than are the equivalent in-situ observational resources for the coastal zones, especially near-shore and inland, including the estuaries, pots and harbors. In fact, there are insufficient data to validate let alone drive models and to document energy sources either spatially or temporally. Because modeling and observations are co-dependent, to maximize their joint forecast utility, coordinated programs of observations and models are required regionally and locally. Objective analyses could be conducted to determine if these systems are under-sampled and thus, whether or not additional in-situ data would improve forecasts. Needed is DA numerical modeling experiments (retrospectives, hind-casts, observing system simulation experiments, and diagnostic modeling) to determine where additional data might be needed to improve forecasts and information product suites. NOAA produces forecasts of phenomena in these areas of high energy, small scale variability but lack critical observations for validation and much needed improved forecasting. Couplings to hydrologic systems, both atmospheric, coastal ocean and land-based, are necessary both from monitoring and modeling perspectives as we show in 3-way model system in which air-sea fluxes can accelerate local winds and spawn storms. This is important for planning and estimating renewable energy potential in a warming climate. However, an expanded observing network, in keeping with the 2009 National Research Council Network of Networks Report, is needed. This discussion will present a proposed national framework based on the existing national in-situ network and a proposed way forward. The challenges, successes, pitfalls and results of a local monitoring network and a complementary modeling effort that was co-funded by the Santee-Cooper and the US Department of Energy and was in place for 1.5 years are presented to demonstrate what is doable.
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