A wind tunnel study of heat transfer over complex terrain

Michelle Pantoya, Kenneth Shifflett, Walter Oler, William Burton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Maximizing wind energy resources requires a detailed understanding of atmospheric flow behavior over complex topography. The objective of this research is to examine unstable flow behavior over a three-dimensional topographic model, representative of mesa terrain that is common in West Texas. The goal is to develop an understanding of how unstable atmospheric conditions caused by surface heating affect boundary layer flow patterns in the natural environment. This objective was accomplished by experimentally monitoring transient thermal behavior of narrow band liquid crystals over a scaled model. Photographic data was collected as the heated model was subjected to a cooler flow field. The transient isotherms result from cooling as the model is exposed to flow in an atmospheric boundary layer wind tunnel. Results suggest that flow patterns associated with unstable conditions can be explained by increased wind speeds on the lee side of a mesa followed by vigorous mixing causing increased cooling rates around the mesa sides. The results could be used to improve the accuracy of numerical atmospheric flow models, assess the feasibility of developing wind turbine sites, and increase the knowledge-base in order to advance wind energy forecasting techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationASME 2003 Wind Energy Symposium, WIND2003
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)1563475944, 9781563475948
StatePublished - 2003

Publication series

NameASME 2003 Wind Energy Symposium, WIND2003


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