Assessing State-of-the-Art Capabilities for Probing the Atmospheric Boundary Layer: The XPIA Field Campaign


To assess current capabilities for measuring flow within the atmospheric boundary layer, including within wind farms, the U.S. Department of Energy sponsored the eXperimental Planetary boundary layer Instrumentation Assessment (XPIA) campaign at the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory (BAO) in spring 2015. Herein, we summarize the XPIA field experiment, highlight novel measurement approaches, and quantify uncertainties associated with these measurement methods. Line-of-sight velocities measured by scanning lidars and radars exhibit close agreement with tower measurements, despite differences in measurement volumes. Virtual towers of wind measurements, from multiple lidars or radars, also agree well with tower and profiling lidar measurements. Estimates of winds over volumes from scanning lidars and radars are in close agreement, enabling the assessment of spatial variability. Strengths of the radar systems used here include high scan rates, large domain coverage, and availability during most precipitation events, but they struggle at times to provide data during periods with limited atmospheric scatterers. In contrast, for the deployment geometry tested here, the lidars have slower scan rates and less range but provide more data during nonprecipitating atmospheric conditions. Microwave radiometers provide temperature profiles with approximately the same uncertainty as radio acoustic sounding systems (RASS). Using a motion platform, we assess motion-compensation algorithms for lidars to be mounted on offshore platforms. Finally, we highlight cases for validation of mesoscale or large-eddy simulations, providing information on accessing the archived dataset. We conclude that modern remote sensing systems provide a generational improvement in observational capabilities, enabling the resolution of finescale processes critical to understanding inhomogeneous boundary layer flows.


Supplementary material available at publisher (possible access restrictions)


Wind turbines, Optical radar, Turbulence, Energy dissipation, Meteorology

Surface flux measurements were supported by NSF Climate and Large-Scale Dynamics (AGS-0955841)


©2017 American Meteorological Society