Data-Driven Planet #33 — World’s Largest Wind Mapping Project

Wind dynamics is far more complex than it might seem at first glance. The experiment in Portugal is a first attempt to push large-scale wind mapping down to resolutions of 100–500 meters. 54 masts, outfitted with sensors, measure a wide range of variables 20 times per second, and 22 instruments will study small-scale wind flow in three dimensions using LIDAR. The outcome should benefit onshore wind power industry globally.

“Europe gets 11% of its total energy from wind. But just a 10% shift in wind speed can change the amount of energy produced by up to 30%”
— Jakob Mann, a wind-energy researcher at the Technical University of Denmark.

World’s largest wind-mapping project

An unprecedented arsenal of meteorological equipment will study speed, direction and other characteristics for the world’s most detailed wind-mapping project in Portugal.

The aim is to understand fundamental properties of wind flow over complex terrain, to help researchers improve atmospheric computer models and enable engineers to decide where to put wind turbines to get the most energy from them. Most importantly, the findings can be applied in other locations.

Wind-flow data visualization over a rugged terrain, with a wind turbine located on the hill top on the left.

92% of us are breathing unsafe air

World Health Organization has released a new interactive map showing where are the places affected worst and least by air pollution.

Large areas of developed countries including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavian nations meet safety guidelines. But, as the map shows, much of Europe is breathing dirty air.

This research is its most detailed to date on outdoor air pollution by country. It shows around 3 million deaths globally are linked to pollution from vehicles, power generation and industry.

This WHO map screenshot shows global ambient air pollution:

Annual mean ambient on this map is PM2.5 (µg/m3), and the scale of the colors is below the map.

Oceans of data from the world’s offshore wind farms

Offshore wind turbines in remote locations make it harder to fix turbines if something goes wrong, so monitoring turbines’ data has a key role in avoiding costly failures.

Sensors on the turbines generate vast amounts of data on a turbine’s operational condition. Using AI and machine learning, it’s possible to make forecasts and models regarding turbines’ future behavior and optimize their own operation.

AI-based software in wind turbines not only helps predict problems but can tell wind farms how much power to produce, changing the output minute by minute.

New climate data product on water

A new Climate Data Record aggregates several types of water data to provide a clearer, broader picture of Earth’s climate. This long-term record of complementary hydrological data by NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information includes total precipitable water, surface temperature, rainfall, sea ice, and snow. It can be used for forecasting trends and changes within these observations.

Monthly composite of hydrological properties derived from Advanced Microsounding Unit (N-16 AMSU) radiometer readings (image by NCEI)

Other Earth data news


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