This project is a collaborative effort between the University of Notre Dame (UND), Colorado University (CU), Cornell University (CU), University of Berkely (UB) and the University of Oklahoma (UO), in partnership with NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) and the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), to study fundamental atmospheric dynamics in complex terrain with applications to wind energy harvesting (Banta et al. 2013, Krishnamurthy et al., 2013), air pollution in urban basins (Fernando & Weil 2010), aviation (Politovich et al. 2011), Alpine (mountain) warfare (Winters et al. 2001) and firefighting (Holden & Jolly 2011).

The project falls under the Scientific Program Overview (SPO): The Perdigão Field Experiment, funded by the NSF to develop a research program by leveraging the resources of a European Union (EU) mega-project supported under the sixth framework funding instrument named ERANET+

Project funded by NSF

Current Research


The specific issues this project plans to address are:

  1. Adjustment (distortion) of approach flow by the double hill, upstream blocking and wakes, flow separation, generation of large (coherent) structures confined within the valley, influence of coherent structures on vertical/horizontal momentum transports, flow unsteadiness (Lead: ND)
  2. Effect of gaps and other topographic inhomogeneities in an otherwise 2D topography (Lead: ND)
  3. Dynamical processes underlying the diurnal variation of wind, temperature, and humidity profiles at the Perdigão site, mechanisms determining the interaction of thermal circulation with overlying synoptic flow, and the effects of stratification on flows in (i) and (ii)? (Lead: OU)
  4. Fluxes, wind and turbulence profiles through the heights relevant to wind energy (‘non-ideal’) relative to theoretical predictions of classical similarity theories or derivatives thereof (Lead: CU)
  5. The structure of turbulence within the valley and over the mountains, and its response to diurnal forcing (Lead: ND, OU)
  6. Vertical fluxes produced by the interaction (collisions) of thermally driven flows, mechanisms of such interactions and parameterization of fluxes (Lead: ND)
  7. Optimization and algorithm development for Lidar deployments and data processing (ND, CU and OU)+
  8. Slope flows and effect of canopy on upslope/downslope flows (ARL, ND)

New European Wind Atlas (NEWA)

The New European Wind Atlas (NEWA) project is a joint European effort involving research agencies from eight European countries, co-funded under the ERA-NET Plus Program. The ultimate goal of the project is to create and publish a European Wind Atlas in electronic form, building a model chain of computational models, and field measurement campaigns.

The five-year NEWA project started on May 01, 2015, with expected deliverables of an electronic atlas, dynamical downscaling methodologies and open source models validated through previous as well as new field data. Information on regional wind resource assessment, wind variability and local siting of turbines will be developed, including guidelines and computational procedures for the effects of shelter from buildings and other obstacles, varying surface roughness and the influence of hills and mountains. The goal is to reduce the Annual Energy Production (AEP) estimation error for turbines in complex terrain from the current level of 40-50% to 3-10%. There will be several field campaigns - in mountains (relevant to this proposal), forested hills (Kassel in Germany), offshore (northern Europe), large changes in surface characteristics (Alaiz mountain, Spain) and cold climates (high altitude ridges in Turkey).