Wind Forecast Improvement Project 2 (WFIP 2) in Complex Flow

Contacts: Melinda Marquis (Phone: 303.497.4487) or Joe Olson (Phone: 303.497.7270)

Building on the Wind Forecast Improvement Project (WFIP), the Wind Forecast Improvement Project 2 (WFIP 2) aims to improve NOAA's short-term weather forecast models and increase understanding of physical processes such as stability, turbulence, and low-level jet that affect wind energy generation in regions of complex terrain, such as coastlines, mountains, and canyons.

HRRR Model image

750-m HRRR nest over the WFIP2 project region

Specifically, ESRL scientists will develop improved models of the drivers of wind at heights and time intervals critical to the wind industry's needs. To do this, NOAA will provide numerical weather prediction (NWP) modeling, using the Rapid Refresh (RAP) and the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) models; deploy instruments to make additional meteorological observations; and use lidar to better understand the physical processes and verify models and improve meteorological parameters in weather models.

Most instruments for WFIP 2 have been deployed in the study region. In the coming weeks, additional model and observational data will become available. Users can visualize selected instrument observations and model output for dates of interest here: Project data are archived at the PNNL Data Archive and Portal (DAP).

In fall of 2015, a 15- to 18-month-long field campaign began in the Columbia River Gorge. Led by the U.S. Department of Energy, the project aims to increase the skill of wind forecasts in regions of complex terrain to support the operation of wind farms.

The Columbia River Gorge terrain includes mountains, canyons, and coastlines, and experiences a variety of complex flow including frontal passages, strong cross-barrier flow, mountain waves, topographic wakes, convective outflow, and marine pushes. Accurate wind forecasts are one of the most significant problems in wind energy integration into the power grid, and reliable forecasts are critical for managers to make optimal decisions.

WFIP 2 is a four-year project to improve short-term weather forecast models and increase understanding of physical phenomena such as stability, turbulence, and low-level jets that affect wind energy generation in regions of complex terrain. The WFIP 2 team also plans to develop decision support tools such as probabilistic forecast information, uncertainty quantification, and forecast reliability for system operations.

WFIP 2 is led by a steering committee that includes members from the U.S. Department of Energy, Vaisala, DOE labs and NOAA. Vaisala, DOE, DOE labs and NOAA ESRL’s Global Systems Division, Global Monitoring Division, Chemical Sciences Division, and Physical Sciences Division all contribute to WFIP 2 Sub Teams that include experimental design, instruments, modeling, data, uncertainty quantification, verification and validation, and decision support.

WFIP 2 will deploy a network of instruments to measure physical processes that drive wind variability, solar radiation, and clouds. These measurements will provide insight into the structure and evolution of complex flows important for wind energy applications.

The WFIP 2 Model Development Team’s focus is to improve model physics in complex terrain. They will work with short-term, 0-15 hour forecasts to next day forecasts using NOAA’s 13-km resolution Rapid- Refresh (RAP) model, the 3-km High-Resolution Rapid-Refresh (HRRR) model, as well as a 0.75-km nest within the HRRR. The team will utilize the new observations to improve the model physics of RAP/ HRRR, and looking beyond the surface layer and boundary layer parameterizations, to evaluate those related to cloud physics (fog, stratus, and shallow cumulus) and radiative processes, to achieve a physically consistent physics suite that improves forecasts of low-level winds.

The Data Team will make sure the data are quality controlled and organized effectively, and the Uncertainty Quantification Team will better understand the model’s sensitivity to the parameters of the model. The Verification and Validation Team will define a strategy to make sure the model improvements have been quantified and documented.

The WFIP 2 team includes Vaisala, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory, and NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, the University of Colorado, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Sharply Focused, Lockheed Martin, Texas Tech University, and University of Notre Dame.

WFIP 2 supports NOAA’s goals of an improved scientific understanding of the changing climate system and its impacts, and assessments of the climate system that identify potential impacts and inform science, service, and stewardship decisions. WFIP 2 is funded by the U.S. DOE and by NOAA.

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