Mechanisms of Low-Level Jet Formation in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Offshore

Research output: NRELPresentation


Low level jets (LLJs) in the atmosphere exhibit a local windspeed maximum inthe boundary layer and are commonly observed both over land and in coastal environments. Because LLJs present strong positive shear beneath the maximum (or "jet nose") and negative shear above the nose, they pose a challenge to future offshore wind technology through their impacts on turbine performance and wakes. Summertime LLJs in the Great Plains have been attributed to frictional decoupling triggering an inertial oscillation, whilecoastal LLJs in California or the North Sea have additional driving mechanisms such as baroclinic forcing. By comparison, LLJs in the coastal US Mid-Atlantic have received less attention, with conflicting evidence about the mechanism that triggers these high shear events. Motivated by future wind energy development in the region, this work elucidates the atmospheric mechanisms of LLJ formation in the US Mid-Atlantic. Using observational data from two floating LiDAR buoys deployed bythe New York State Energy Research and Development Authority in the NY Bight, we identify four sustained LLJ events whose windspeeds and directions are well predicted by a WRF simulation (Weather Research and Forecasting Model). From analysis of the WRF data, we find that the four case studies provide evidence of concurrent inertial oscillation, reduced vertical mixing, and baroclinicity. In addition, we use simple atmospheric dynamics and a single-column-model to compare the relative contribution of each of these mechanisms to triggering the LLJ. By improving understanding and predictability of coastal mid-Atlantic LLJs, this work reduces uncertaintiesof wind energy deployment in the region, aiding the US's transition toward renewable energy.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePresented at the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Annual Meeting, 23-27 January 2022, Houston, Texas

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-2C00-80877


  • atmospheric boundary layers
  • baroclinicity
  • low level jet


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