Innovative technologies to investigate fine-scale atmospheric motions and their impact

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Scientists and engineers understand the need to observe and predict the structure of the atmosphere at relatively small scales. While wind engineers have spent many years defining the structure of atmospheric turbulence using in-situ anemometers, they now recognize the need to examine the spatial continuity of their assumptions, document the spatial context and intermittency of coherent turbulence, and record and understand the micro-scale structure of extreme events. The understanding of fine-scale motions within extreme events has a direct effect on our ability to engineer resistant structures. At the same time, these same small-scale motions are important in maximizing power output from wind turbines and mitigating fatigue loads which could detrimentally impact the wind power industry in the coming decades. Atmospheric scientists have also developed a growing respect for the influence of fine-scale structures on larger scaled atmospheric events. There are a host of atmospheric phenomena such as tornadogenesis and convective initiation, rich in dynamical complexity, that are dependent on small-scale atmospheric motions relatively close to the ground. While the importance of characterizing the lower atmosphere is ubiquitously recognized, historical progress has been stymied. The major impediment in lower atmospheric research is the inability to accurately observe the three-dimensional wind flow with adequate spatial and temporal resolution. Hence, assumptions about the characteristics of the lower atmosphere persist in engineering design, wind power analyses, and atmospheric modeling efforts. Texas Tech University (TTU) has recently committed to developing new observation technologies to help fill this identified need. The new technologies include two high-resolution mobile research Doppler radars capable of resolving relevant information from clear-air and precipitating atmospheres, and a new small tower technology termed StickNet which allows rapid deployment of dense instrument arrays to make near-surface measurements of highly transient atmospheric phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 2009
Event11th Americas Conference on Wind Engineering - San Juan, Puerto Rico
Duration: Jun 22 2009Jun 26 2009


Conference11th Americas Conference on Wind Engineering
Country/TerritoryPuerto Rico
CitySan Juan


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