The Wind Forecast Improvement Project wraps up
Wasco site, where many instruments were deployed. Showing are a Windcube lidar, ceilometer, 915 MHz wind profiling radar with RASS, trailer, 10 m tower with smaller instruments. Photo courtesy of Justin Sharp, Sharply Focused, LLC.
May 3, 2017
On March 31, 2017, the Wind Forecast Improvement Project 2 (WFIP-2) wrapped up 18 months of collecting atmospheric observations in the Columbia River Gorge that will be used to improve wind forecasts in areas of complex terrain. The project successfully leveraged resources, instruments, and researchers across all Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) Divisions, the Air Resources Laboratory Field Research Division, other federal agencies, private companies, and universities to collect an unprecedented and valuable dataset that will pay off for years to come.
The Columbia River Gorge hosts approximately 5 gigawatts of installed wind power capacity (about 7% of the US wind capacity), and is subject to many weather processes that complicate forecasting including mountain wakes, marine pushes, cold pools, and gravity waves. Accurate forecasts of wind have been a challenge in this region.
ESRL’s Physical Sciences Division, Chemical Sciences Division, Global Monitoring Division, and the Air Resources Laboratory deployed wind profiling radars, sodars, lidars, and other instruments across a range of spatial scales. Next week, researchers plan to travel to WFIP-2 sites in Oregon to uninstall equipment.
ESRL's Global Systems Division is now using the dataset to verify the skill of NOAA’s hourly updating, 13-km Rapid Refresh (RAP) and the 3-km HRRR numerical weather prediction models, and to improve parts of the models produce more accurate forecasts of turbine-height winds. More specifically, GSD researchers identified ways to improve how the models handle local and non-local vertical mixing and how clouds are represented in the models. They also developed a parameterization for wind farms and made a special effort to introduce adaptive physics that can be applied to any model resolution.
Wind turbines at the Klondike Wind Plant, near the site of many WFIP2 instruments deployed near the Wasco airport. Photo Courtesy of Justin Sharp, Sharply Focused, LLC.
Federal agencies, private companies, and universities collaborated on all aspects of the project. Wind plant owners in the region shared confidential meteorological observations with project partners, and Vaisala is developing decision-support tools to provide uncertainty information to industry agents and operators.
WFIP2 is a public-private partnership effort led by the U.S. Department of Energy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s ESRL. The WFIP-2 data set is available for public use.
For more information contact: Susan Cobb 303-497-5093