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A sensitivity study of the WRF model in wind simulation for an area of high wind energy

Carvalho, David, Rocha, Alfredo, Gómez-Gesteira, Moncho, Santos, Carlos
Environmental modelling & software 2012 v.33 pp. 23-34
computer software, environmental models, model validation, wind direction, wind power, wind speed, Portugal
The performance of the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model in wind simulation was evaluated under different numerical and physical options for an area of Portugal, located in complex terrain and characterized by its significant wind energy resource. The grid nudging and integration time of the simulations were the tested numerical options. Since the goal is to simulate the near-surface wind, the physical parameterization schemes regarding the boundary layer were the ones under evaluation. Also, the influences of the local terrain complexity and simulation domain resolution on the model results were also studied. Data from three wind measuring stations located within the chosen area were compared with the model results, in terms of Root Mean Square Error, Standard Deviation Error and Bias. Wind speed histograms, occurrences and energy wind roses were also used for model evaluation. Globally, the model accurately reproduced the local wind regime, despite a significant underestimation of the wind speed. The wind direction is reasonably simulated by the model especially in wind regimes where there is a clear dominant sector, but in the presence of low wind speeds the characterization of the wind direction (observed and simulated) is very subjective and led to higher deviations between simulations and observations. Within the tested options, results show that the use of grid nudging in simulations that should not exceed an integration time of 2 days is the best numerical configuration, and the parameterization set composed by the physical schemes MM5–Yonsei University–Noah are the most suitable for this site. Results were poorer in sites with higher terrain complexity, mainly due to limitations of the terrain data supplied to the model. The increase of the simulation domain resolution alone is not enough to significantly improve the model performance. Results suggest that error minimization in the wind simulation can be achieved by testing and choosing a suitable numerical and physical configuration for the region of interest together with the use of high resolution terrain data, if available.