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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Global ocean wind power sensitivity to surface layer stability

  • Author(s): Capps, Scott B
  • Zender, Charles S
  • et al.

Global ocean wind power has recently been assessed (W. T. Liu et al., 2008) using scatterometry-based 10 m winds. We characterize, for the first time, wind power at 80 m (typical wind turbine hub height) above the global ocean surface, and account for the effects of surface layer stability. Accounting for realistic turbine height and atmospheric stability increases mean global ocean wind power by +58% and −4%, respectively. Our best estimate of mean global ocean wind power is 731 W m−2, about 50% greater than the 487 W m−2 based on previous methods. 80 m wind power is 1.2–1.5 times 10 m power equatorward of 30° latitude, between 1.4 and 1.7 times 10 m power in wintertime storm track regions and >6 times 10 m power in stable regimes east of continents. These results are relatively insensitive to methodology as wind power calculated using a fitted Weibull probability density function is within 10% of power calculated from discrete wind speed measurements over most of the global oceans.

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