The prediction of winds between 50 and 150 m above ground level (AGL) is crucial for the design, operation, and maintenance of wind farms. The lack of standard observations in this layer makes the development and verification of numerical weather prediction models difficult for wind energy purposes. Specifically, this data limitation has resulted in a lack of progress in planetary boundary layer (PBL) scheme development towards renewable energy applications. Furthermore, the design of operational data assimilation systems, which have a strong potential benefit towards the forecasting of low-level winds, is also hindered without a dense and accessible quantity of wind tower data to ingest. A new high-frequency data assimilation system, the Rapid Refresh (RR), is planned for operational implementation at the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) in 2010. A much higher-resolution nest (HRRR) is likely to become available through NCEP a few years later. Both are strong candidates for use in renewable energy applications, either directly or as a source of initial and lateral boundary conditions for higher resolution WRF forecasts from private vendors. The RR and HRRR forecast model component is the Advanced Research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF-ARW). As part of the development and testing, new PBL schemes are being tested and compared to current operational schemes. Model errors within the PBL, immediately above the surface, are relatively unknown and need to be assessed in order to further system development. A recent acquisition of data from over 100 towers throughout the Great Plains region allows an investigation of the performance of different PBL schemes within the WRF-ARW in simulating low-level jet (LLJ) cases occurring 18-20 August 2007. This study evaluates the performance of the WRF-ARW, with focus on the vertical structure of the winds and turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) within a LLJ. High-resolution model simulations are compared with wind measurements on towers throughout the region of the LLJ. Notable differences are observed for different PBL schemes, such as LLJ maximum wind speeds, vertical wind shear in the lowest 100 m of the PBL, and predicted TKE. Sensitivity experiments are performed to help elucidate the fundamental PBL and surface layer parameters producing the spread in the simulated LLJ structures.
This publication was presented at the following: