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Pedro A. Jiménez
and
Jimy Dudhia

Abstract

The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model presents a high surface wind speed bias over plains and valleys that constitutes a limitation for the increasing use of the model for several applications. This study attempts to correct for this bias by parameterizing the effects that the unresolved topographic features exert over the momentum flux. The proposed parameterization is based on the concept of a momentum sink term and makes use of the standard deviation of the subgrid-scale orography as well as the Laplacian of the topographic field. Both the drag generated by the unresolved terrain and the possibility of an increase in the speed of the flow over the mountains and hills, where it is herein shown that WRF presents a low wind speed bias, are considered in the scheme. The surface wind simulation over a complex-terrain region that is located in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula is improved with the inclusion of the new parameterization. In particular, the underestimation of the wind speed spatial variability resulting from the mentioned biases is corrected. The importance of selecting appropriate grid points to compare with observations is also examined. The wind speed from the nearest grid point is not always the most appropriate one for this comparison, nearby ones being more representative. The new scheme not only improves the climatological winds but also the intradiurnal variations at the mountains, over which the default WRF shows limitations in reproducing the observed wind behavior. Some advantages of the proposed formulation for wind-resource evaluation are also discussed.

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Pedro A. Jiménez
and
Jimy Dudhia

Abstract

The ability of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model to reproduce the surface wind direction over complex terrain is examined. A simulation spanning a winter season at a high horizontal resolution of 2 km is compared with wind direction records from a surface observational network located in the northeastern Iberian Peninsula. A previous evaluation has shown the ability of WRF to reproduce the wind speed over the region once the effects of the subgrid-scale topography are parameterized. Hence, the current investigation complements the previous findings, providing information about the model's ability to reproduce the direction of the surface flow. The differences between the observations and the model are quantified in terms of scores explicitly designed to handle the circular nature of the wind direction. Results show that the differences depend on the wind speed. The larger the wind speed is, the smaller are the wind direction differences. Areas with more complex terrain show larger systematic differences between model and observations; in these areas, a statistical correction is shown to help. The importance of the grid point selected for the comparison with observations is also analyzed. A careful selection is relevant to reducing comparative problems over complex terrain.

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Pedro A. Jiménez
and
Jimy Dudhia

Abstract

The wind stress formulation in an atmospheric model over shallow waters is investigated using year-long observations of the wind profile within the first 100 m of the atmosphere and mesoscale simulations. The model experiments use a range of planetary boundary layer parameterizations to quantify the uncertainty related to the turbulent closure assumptions and thus to isolate the dominant influence of the surface roughness formulation. Results indicate that a positive wind speed bias exists when common open-ocean formulations for roughness are adopted for a region with a water depth of 30 m. Imposition of a wind stress formulation that is consistent with previous shallow-water estimates is necessary to reconcile model wind speeds with observations, providing modeling evidence that supports the increase of surface drag over shallow waters. The possibility of including water depth in the parameterization of roughness length is examined.

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Raquel Lorente-Plazas
,
Pedro A. Jiménez
,
Jimy Dudhia
, and
Juan P. Montávez

Abstract

This study assesses the impact of the atmospheric stability on the turbulent orographic form drag (TOFD) generated by unresolved small-scale orography (SSO) focusing on surface winds. With this aim, several experiments are conducted with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model and they are evaluated over a large number of stations (318 at 2-m height) in the Iberian Peninsula with a year of data. In WRF, Jiménez and Dudhia resolved the SSO by including a factor in the momentum equation, which is a function of the orographic variability inside a grid cell. It is found that this scheme can improve the simulated surface winds, especially at night, but it can underestimate the winds during daytime. This suggests that TOFD can be dependent on the PBL’s stability. To inspect and overcome this limitation, the stability conditions are included in the SSO parameterization to maintain the intensity of the drag during stable conditions while attenuating it during unstable conditions. The numerical experiments demonstrate that the inclusion of stability effects on the SSO drag parameterization improves the simulated surface winds at diurnal, monthly, and annual scales by reducing the systematic daytime underestimation of the original scheme. The correction is especially beneficial when both the convective velocity and the boundary layer height are used to characterize the unstable conditions.

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Cristina L. Archer
,
Sicheng Wu
,
Yulong Ma
, and
Pedro Jiménez
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Cristina L. Archer
,
Sicheng Wu
,
Yulong Ma
, and
Pedro A. Jiménez

Abstract

As wind farms grow in number and size worldwide, it is important that their potential impacts on the environment are studied and understood. The Fitch parameterization implemented in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model since version 3.3 is a widely used tool today to study such impacts. We identified two important issues related to the way the added turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) generated by a wind farm is treated in the WRF Model with the Fitch parameterization. The first issue is a simple “bug” in the WRF code, and the second issue is the excessive value of a coefficient, called C TKE, that relates TKE to the turbine electromechanical losses. These two issues directly affect the way that a wind farm wake evolves, and they impact properties like near-surface temperature and wind speed at the wind farm as well as behind it in the wake. We provide a bug fix and a revised value of C TKE that is one-quarter of the original value. This 0.25 correction factor is empirical; future studies should examine its dependence on parameters such as atmospheric stability, grid resolution, and wind farm layout. We present the results obtained with the Fitch parameterization in the WRF Model for a single turbine with and without the bug fix and the corrected C TKE and compare them with high-fidelity large-eddy simulations. These two issues have not been discovered before because they interact with one another in such a way that their combined effect is a somewhat realistic vertical TKE profile at the wind farm and a realistic wind speed deficit in the wake. All WRF simulations that used the Fitch wind farm parameterization are affected, and their conclusions may need to be revisited.

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Pedro A. Jiménez
,
Jaemo Yang
,
Ju-Hye Kim
,
Manajit Sengupta
, and
Jimy Dudhia

Abstract

WRF-Solar is a numerical weather prediction model specifically designed to meet the increasing demand for accurate solar irradiance forecasting. The model provides flexibility in the representation of the aerosol–cloud–radiation processes. This flexibility can be argued to make it more difficult to improve the model’s performance because of the necessity of inspecting different configurations. To alleviate this situation, WRF-Solar has a reference configuration to use as a benchmark in sensitivity experiments. However, the scarcity of high-quality ground observations is a handicap to accurately quantify the model performance. An alternative to ground observations are satellite irradiance retrievals. Herein we analyze the adequacy of the National Solar Radiation Database (NSRDB) to validate the WRF-Solar performance using high-quality global horizontal irradiance (GHI) observations across the contiguous United States (CONUS). Based on the sufficient performance of NSRDB, we further analyze the WRF-Solar forecast errors across the CONUS, the growth of the forecasting errors as a function of the lead time, and sensitivities to the grid spacing and the representation of the radiative effects of unresolved clouds. Our results based on WRF-Solar forecasts spanning 2018 reveal a 7% median degradation of the mean absolute error (MAE) from the first to the second daytime period. Reducing the grid spacing from 9 to 3 km leads to a 4% improvement in the MAE, whereas activating the radiative effects of unresolved clouds is desirable over most of the CONUS even at 3 km of grid spacing. A systematic overestimation of the GHI is found. These results illustrate the potential of GHI retrievals to contribute to increasing the WRF-Solar performance.

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Jared A. Lee
,
Pedro A. Jiménez
,
Jimy Dudhia
, and
Yves-Marie Saint-Drenan

Abstract

Aerosol optical depth (AOD) is a primary source of solar irradiance forecast error in clear-sky conditions. Improving the accuracy of AOD in NWP models like WRF will thus reduce error in both direct normal irradiance (DNI) and global horizontal irradiance (GHI), which should improve solar power forecast errors, at least in cloud-free conditions. In this study clear-sky GHI and DNI was analyzed from four configurations of the WRF-Solar model with different aerosol representations: 1) the default Tegen climatology, 2) imposing AOD forecasts from the GEOS-5 model, 3) imposing AOD forecasts from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) model, and 4) the Thompson–Eidhammer aerosol-aware water/ice-friendly aerosol climatology. More than 8 months of these 15-min output forecasts are compared with high-quality irradiance observations at NOAA SURFRAD and Solar Radiation (SOLRAD) stations located across CONUS. In general, WRF-Solar with GEOS-5 AOD had the lowest errors in clear-sky DNI, while WRF-Solar with CAMS AOD had the highest errors, higher even than the two aerosol climatologies, which is consistent with validation of the four AOD550 datasets against AERONET stations. For clear-sky GHI, the statistics differed little between the four models, as expected because of the lesser sensitivity of GHI to aerosol loading. Hourly average clear-sky DNI and GHI were also analyzed, and they were additionally compared with CAMS model output directly. CAMS irradiance performed competitively with the best WRF-Solar configuration (with GEOS-5 AOD). The markedly different performance of CAMS versus WRF-Solar with CAMS AOD indicates that CAMS is apparently less sensitive to AOD550 than WRF-Solar is.

Significance Statement

Particles in the atmosphere called aerosols, which can include dust, smoke, sea salt, sulfates, black carbon, and organic carbon, absorb and scatter incoming sunlight. Improving the representation of aerosols in numerical weather prediction models reduces forecast errors in solar irradiance at ground level, particularly direct normal irradiance, during cloud-free conditions. This in turn should result in improved accuracy of solar power forecasts, especially for concentrated solar power (CSP) plants. CSP plants tend to be built in more arid, less cloudy regions that are also prone to dust loading, so accurate aerosol forecasts are particularly relevant. Comparing four representations of aerosols in the WRF-Solar model over eight months of forecasts across the United States reveals substantial differences in clear-sky irradiance forecast skill.

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Pedro A. Jiménez
,
J. Fidel González-Rouco
,
Jorge Navarro
,
Juan P. Montávez
, and
Elena García-Bustamante

Abstract

Meteorological data of good quality are important for understanding both global and regional climates. In this respect, great efforts have been made to evaluate temperature- and precipitation-related records. This study summarizes the evaluations made to date of the quality of wind speed and direction records acquired at 41 automated weather stations in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula. Observations were acquired from 1992 to 2005 at a temporal resolution of 10 and 30 min. A quality assurance system was imposed to screen the records for 1) manipulation errors associated with storage and management of the data, 2) consistency limits to ensure that observations are within their natural limits of variation, and 3) temporal consistency to assess abnormally low/high variations in the individual time series. In addition, the most important biases of the dataset are analyzed and corrected wherever possible. A total of 1.8% wind speed and 3.7% wind direction records was assumed invalid, pointing to specific problems in wind measurement. The study not only tries to contribute to the science with the creation of a wind dataset of improved quality, but it also reports on potential errors that could be present in other wind datasets.

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Pedro A. Jimenez
,
Jordi Vila-Guerau de Arellano
,
Jorge Navarro
, and
J. Fidel Gonzalez-Rouco
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