Nonlocal Inadvertent Weather Modification Associated with Wind Farms

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 11:15 AM
211B West Building (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Matthew J. Lauridsen, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX; and B. C. Ancell

With the recent push for alternative energy, the wind energy industry has seen a marked boom in the United States and other countries. An interesting consequence of the creation of wind farms has been an inadvertent change in weather; the local effects near the farms have been well documented by a number of studies and observational campaigns. However, the broader nonlocal atmospheric effects of wind farms are much less clear. In turn, there is a need to understand how wind farms are impacting the atmosphere on large temporal and spatial scales. The main goal of this study is to determine how wind farm-induced perturbations evolve over periods of days, and over areas of thousands of square kilometers, to modify specific atmospheric features that have large impacts on society and the environment (e.g., cyclogenesis, quantity of precipitation).

Here we use the WRF mesoscale model with the wind farm parameterization outlined in Fitch et al. (2012) to quantify changes in meteorological variables due to the presence of wind farms. This wind farm parameterization imposes a momentum sink on the mean flow and transfers kinetic energy into electricity and turbulent kinetic energy. The WRF adjoint model is also used to determine areas of sensitivity to assess the potential impacts of future wind farms. Different synoptic weather patterns along with a range of wind farm sizes and locations are explored to determine which will produce perturbations that evolve into significant changes to nonlocal meteorology.