Wind Characteristics in Southern Wyoming

Brooks E. Martner Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie 82071

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John D. Marwitz Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie 82071

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Abstract

Measurements of wind from a network of surface anemometers and a 107 m tower have been analyzed for southern Wyoming where a project for large-scale generation of electricity from wind power is underway. Topographically forced channeling of stable air flow across a low region of the Continental Divide is mainly responsible for very high mean wind speeds especially in winter. The seasonal cycle of wind speed exhibits a maximum in winter and minimum in summer. Mean wind speeds are approximately 50% greater in winter months than in summer, and the available wind power density is a factor of ∼4.0 greater in winter than in summer. The diurnal cycle is characterized by minimum speed near sunrise and maximum in afternoon hours. Wind directions are narrowly confined from the west-southwest by topographic channeling of the flow, particularly in winter. Wind speed increases sharply with height at night but the profile becomes much more uniform during daylight hours in response to mixing of the lower atmosphere initiated by surface heating.

Abstract

Measurements of wind from a network of surface anemometers and a 107 m tower have been analyzed for southern Wyoming where a project for large-scale generation of electricity from wind power is underway. Topographically forced channeling of stable air flow across a low region of the Continental Divide is mainly responsible for very high mean wind speeds especially in winter. The seasonal cycle of wind speed exhibits a maximum in winter and minimum in summer. Mean wind speeds are approximately 50% greater in winter months than in summer, and the available wind power density is a factor of ∼4.0 greater in winter than in summer. The diurnal cycle is characterized by minimum speed near sunrise and maximum in afternoon hours. Wind directions are narrowly confined from the west-southwest by topographic channeling of the flow, particularly in winter. Wind speed increases sharply with height at night but the profile becomes much more uniform during daylight hours in response to mixing of the lower atmosphere initiated by surface heating.

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