Impacts of urbanization and climate change over the 21st century on coastal wind resources in the Mid-Atlantic U.S.

Frei, Brian P.
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University of Delaware
Climate change and urbanization can alter coastal wind resources available for energy production by modifying pressure patterns, local thermodynamics, and land surface properties. The Mid-Atlantic U.S. has a burgeoning offshore wind industry, with strong potentials for drastic climate change and widespread urbanization. Here I investigate how climate change and urbanization over the 21st century collectively and respectively affect coastal winds, using the Mid-Atlantic U.S. as an example region. Urbanization causes increased summertime wind speeds over the ocean (0.4 – 0.6 m/s) and decreased wind speeds over land with minimal offshore impacts in other seasons. Similarly, climate change causes the largest impacts on wind resources in the summer, with offshore wind speed increases between 0.8 – 1.4 m/s. While urbanization strengthens the sea breeze circulation through enhanced land-ocean temperature gradients, climate change weakens it. Both climate change and urbanization cause substantial increases in extreme heat conditions in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. These findings suggest that the impacts of both urbanization and climate change are vital to consider as offshore wind energy develops along urbanizing coastal areas.
Regional climate modeling , Sea breeze , Urbanization , Wind energy