US East Coast Synthetic Aperture Radar Wind Atlas for Offshore Wind Energy

Caroline Draxl, Galen Maclaurin, Tobias Ahsbahs, Christopher Jackson, Frank Monaldo, Merete Badger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We present the first synthetic aperture radar (SAR)-based offshore wind atlas of the US East Coast from Georgia to the Canadian border. Images from Radarsat-1, Envisat, Sentinel-1A, and Sentinel-1B are processed to wind maps using the Geophysical Model Function (GMF) CMOD5.N. Extensive comparisons with 6,008 collocated buoy observations revealed that biases of the individual system range from -0.8 to 0.6?m/s. Unbiased wind retrievals are crucial for producing an accurate wind atlas and intercalibration for correcting these biases by adjusting the normalized radar cross section is applied. The intercalibrated SAR observations show biases in the range of to -0.2 to 0.0?m/s, while at the same time improving the root mean squared error from 1.67 to 1.46?m/s. These intercalibrated SAR observations are, for the first time, aggregated to create a wind atlas. Monthly averages are used to correct artefacts from seasonal biases. The SAR wind atlas is used as a reference to study wind resources derived from the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. Comparisons focus on the spatial variation of wind resources and show that model results estimate lower coastal wind speed gradients than those from SAR. At sites designated for offshore wind development by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, mean wind speeds typically vary between 0.3 and 0.5?m/s for SAR and less than 0.2?m/s for the WRF model within each site. Findings indicate that wind speed gradients and variation might be underestimated in mesoscale model outputs along US East Coast.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages32
JournalWind Energy Science Discussions
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

See NREL/JA-5000-77935 for final paper as published in Wind Energy Science

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-77002


  • offshore wind energy
  • synthetic aperture radar
  • wind atlas
  • WIND Toolkit


Dive into the research topics of 'US East Coast Synthetic Aperture Radar Wind Atlas for Offshore Wind Energy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this