Characterization of the Boundary Layer Wind and Turbulence in the Gulf of Mexico

Monday, 15 December 2014
Yelena L Pichugina1, Robert M Banta2, Aditya Choukulkar1, Alan Brewer2, Robert Michael Hardesty1, Brandi McCarty1 and Richard Marchbanks1, (1)Colorado University/NOAA/ESRL, Boulder, CO, United States, (2)NOAA/ESRL, Boulder, CO, United States
A dataset of ship-borne Doppler lidar measurements taken in the Gulf of Mexico was analyzed to provide insight into marine boundary-layer (BL) features and wind-flow characteristics, as needed for offshore wind energy development. This dataset was obtained as part of the intensive Texas Air Quality Study in summer of 2006 (TexAQS06). During the project, the ship, the R/V Ronald H. Brown, cruised in tracks in the Gulf of Mexico along the Texas coast, in Galveston Bay, and in the Houston Ship Channel obtaining air chemistry and meteorological data, including vertical profile measurements of wind and temperature. The primary observing system used in this paper is NOAA/ESRL’s High Resolution Doppler Lidar (HRDL), which features high-precision and high-resolution wind measurements and a motion compensation system to provide accurate wind data despite ship and wave motions. The boundary layer in this warm-water region was found to be weakly unstable typically to a depth of 300 m above the sea surface. HRDL data were analyzed to provide 15-min averaged profiles of wind flow properties (wind speed, direction, and turbulence) from the water surface up to 2.5 km at a vertical resolution of 15 m. The paper will present statistics and distributions of these parameters over a wide range of heights and under various atmospheric conditions. Detailed analysis of the BL features including LLJs, wind and directional ramps, and wind shear through the rotor level heights, along with examples of hub-height and equivalent wind will be presented. The paper will discuss the diurnal fluctuations of all quantities critical to wind energy and their variability along the Texas coast.