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The contribution of North Atlantic atmospheric circulation shifts to future wind speed projections for wind power over Europe

Gonzalez, P. L. M., Brayshaw, D. J. and Zappa, G. (2019) The contribution of North Atlantic atmospheric circulation shifts to future wind speed projections for wind power over Europe. Climate Dynamics. ISSN 1432-0894

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00382-019-04776-3

Abstract/Summary

Wind power accounts for a large portion of the European energy mix (~17% of total power capacity). European power systems therefore have a significant - and growing - exposure to near-surface wind speed changes. Despite this, future changes in European wind climate remain relatively poorly studied (compared to, e.g., temperature or precipitation), and there is limited understanding of the differences shown by different general and regional circulation models (GCMs and RCMs). This study provides a step towards a process-based understanding of European wind speed changes by isolating the component associated with `large-scale' atmospheric circulation changes in the CMIP5 simulations. The component associated with the large-scale atmospheric circulation is found to explain cold season windiness projections in the free troposphere over Western Europe, with the changes reflecting the poleward shift of the North Atlantic jet. However, in most GCMs the projected wind speed changes near the surface are more negative than would be expected from the large-scale circulation alone. Thus, while the spread in CMIP5 21st century near surface wind speed projections is associated with divergent projections for the large-scale atmospheric circulation, there is a remarkably good agreement concerning a relative reduction in near-surface wind speeds. This analysis suggests that projected 21st century wind speed changes over Western Europe are the result of two distinct processes. The first is associated with changes in the large-scale atmospheric circulation, while the second is likely to be more local in its connection to the near-surface boundary layer. An improved process-based understanding of both is needed for enhancing confidence in wind-power projections on multi-decadal timescales.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:83474
Uncontrolled Keywords:Climate change surface wind projections North Atlantic modes of variability wind power generation Western Europe
Publisher:Springer

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