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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: February 2020

2 - The Wind and Its Characteristics


This chapter is an overview of wind power meterorology at a relatively simple level without too much mathematical complexity. The origins of the wind are explained in the action of solar thermal radiation on the atmosphere, and the equation is given for the geostrophic wind at the top of the earth’s boundary layer. The role of the boundary layer in creating wind shear and turbulence near the earth’s surface is explained, and appropriate engineering equations are given to allow wind speed and turbulence to be estimated. Surface roughness and its relationship to turbulence and shear are explained. Experimental measurements are used to illustrate shear and turbulence for a range of different terrain types. The time and space dependency of wind speeds is also illustrated with site measurements, showing the long-term dependability of annual wind speeds, through the more variable monthly averages, to short-term turbulent variation. Gust factor is explained and illustrated as a function of turbulence intensity. The chapter includes high-resolution wind measurements taken during a storm in the Scottish Outer Hebrides, illustrating the extreme levels of turbulence arising in complex terrain.