Characterization of Flow Recirculation Zones at the Perdigao Site Using Multi-Lidar Measurements

Julie Lundquist, Robert Menke, Nikola Vasiljevic, Jakob Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus Citations


Because flow recirculation can generate significant amounts of turbulence, it can impact the success of wind energy projects. This study uses unique Doppler lidar observations to quantify occurrences of flow recirculation on lee sides of ridges. An extensive dataset of observations of flow over complex terrain is available from the Perdigao 2017 field campaign over a period of 3 months. The campaign site was selected because of the unique terrain feature of two nearly parallel ridges with a valley-to-ridge-top height difference of about 200 m and a ridge-to-ridge distance of 1.4 km. Six scanning Doppler lidars probed the flow field in several vertical planes orthogonal to the ridges using range-height indicator scans. With this lidar setup, we achieved vertical scans of the recirculation zone at three positions along two parallel ridges. We construct a method to identify flow recirculation zones in the scans, as well as define characteristics of these zones. According to our data analysis, flow recirculation, with reverse flow wind speeds greater than 0.5 m s-1, occurs over 50% of the time when the wind direction is perpendicular to the direction of the ridges. Atmospheric conditions, such as atmospheric stability and wind speed, affect the occurrence of flow recirculation. Flow recirculation occurs more frequently during periods with wind speeds above 8 m s-1. Recirculation within the valley affects the mean wind and turbulence fields at turbine heights on the downwind ridge in magnitudes significant for wind resource assessment.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2713-2723
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
StatePublished - 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-73536


  • Doppler lidar observation
  • flow recirculation
  • ridges
  • turbulence


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