AGU Fall Meeting 2020: A brief summary of our contributions and takeways

Corona has impeded everything in 2020 including researchers’ involvement in scientific conferences. However, innovation and the internet made it possible to contribute to large and much anticipated conferences like the AGU Fall Meeting ‘20. Thus, 2 of our PhD researchers, Annu Panwar and Jonathan Minz, presented their scientific results, keeping the spirit of science communication alive, despite tough times.

Annu’s talk entitled “What Cools Forests: Evaporation or Aerodynamic conductance?” showed that the temperature variations during the day in the forest are generally lower, even when water was limiting. Using the surface energy balance approach she then shows that this is mainly due to the high aerodynamic conductance of the forest whearas evaporation is just a secondary factor. This talk was presented in session “Land–Atmosphere Interactions: From Bedrock to Boundary Layer” and relates to her recently-published manuscript in HESS. 

Jonathan presented his work on estimating limits to regional wind energy potential through a poster titled – “Regional wind energy potentials are defined by the kinetic energy budget of the atmosphere” in the Renewable Energy: Wind session. In this, he ascertained the extent to which regional wind energy potentials are determined by the height of the boundary layer. Using the Kinetic Energy Budget of the Atmosphere (KEBA) approach, he showed that higher boundary layer heights during the day lead to greater yield from a large idealized wind turbine deployment in the central US, despite higher wind speeds at night. He also showed that wind speeds, park yields and capacity factors — a measure of the park efficiency at converting kinetic energy from the wind into electricity, all reduce much faster at night than day. These results add to a growing body of evidence which suggest that reliance on wind speeds leads to overestimation of wind energy potentials which are limited to ~1 MWi . km-2. These results go against the grain of the common approach, which continue to rely on wind speeds and assume that wind speeds do not reduce as turbines extract kinetic energy. Although the role of atmospheric controls on currently operating wind farms is well understood, these insights are yet to be incorporated in estimates for the large wind turbine deployment envisioned in energy scenarios of the future. Our work shows that KEBA is a simple and effective way to do so. Stay tuned for his publication for more details. 

With this event we wrapped up our engagements for 2020, and now look to 2021 to continue providing updates from our group’s research!

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