Assessing the accuracy of microwave radiometers and radio acoustic sounding systems for wind energy applications
Laura Bianco1,2, Katja Friedrich3, James Wilczak2, Duane Hazen1,2, Daniel Wolfe1,2, Ruben Delgado4, Steve Oncley5, and Julie K. Lundquist3,61Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), Boulder, CO, USA 2National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Earth Systems Research Laboratory/Physical Science division, Boulder, CO, USA 3Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA 4University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, MA, USA 5National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA 6National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO, USA
Received: 28 Sep 2016 – Accepted for review: 11 Oct 2016 – Discussion started: 12 Oct 2016
Abstract. To assess current remote-sensing capabilities for wind energy applications, a remote-sensing system evaluation study, called XPIA (eXperimental Planetary boundary layer Instrument Assessment), was held in the spring of 2015 at NOAA’s Boulder Atmospheric Observatory (BAO) facility. Several remote-sensing platforms were evaluated to determine their suitability for the verification and validation processes used to test the accuracy of numerical weather prediction models.
The evaluation of these platforms was performed with respect to well-defined reference systems: the BAO’s 300-m tower equipped at 6 levels (50, 100, 150, 200, 250, and 300 m) with 12 sonic anemometers and 6 temperature and relative humidity sensors; and approximately 60 radiosonde launches.
In this study we first employ these reference measurements to validate temperature profiles retrieved by two co-located microwave radiometers, as well as virtual temperature measured by co-located wind profiling radars equipped with radio acoustic sounding systems. Results indicate a mean absolute error in the temperature retrieved by the microwave radiometers below 1.5 °C in the lowest 5 km of the atmosphere, and a mean absolute error in the virtual temperature measured by the radio acoustic sounding systems below 0.8 °C in the layer of the atmosphere covered by these measurements (up to approximately 1.6–2 km). We also investigated the benefit of the vertical velocity applied to the speed of sound before computing the virtual temperature by the radio acoustic sounding systems. We find that using this correction frequently increases the RASS error, and that it should not be routinely applied to all data.
Water vapor density profiles measured by the MWRs were also compared with similar measurements from the soundings, showing the capability of MWRs to follow the vertical profile measured by the sounding, and finding a mean absolute error below 0.5 g m−3 in the lowest 5 km of the atmosphere. However, the relative humidity profiles measured by the microwave radiometer lack the high-resolution details available from radiosonde profiles. An encouraging and significant finding of this study was that the coefficient of determination between the lapse rate measured by the microwave radiometer and the tower measurements over the tower levels between 50 and 300 m ranged from 0.76 to 0.91, proving that these remote-sensing instruments can provide accurate information on atmospheric stability conditions in the lower boundary layer.
Bianco, L., Friedrich, K., Wilczak, J., Hazen, D., Wolfe, D., Delgado, R., Oncley, S., and Lundquist, J. K.: Assessing the accuracy of microwave radiometers and radio acoustic sounding systems for wind energy applications, Atmos. Meas. Tech. Discuss., doi:10.5194/amt-2016-321, in review, 2016.