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The Impact of Climate Change on Global Wind Energy: A Tale of Two Hemispheres

Start Date: March 8, 2017 - 04:15 PM
End Date: March 8, 2017 - 05:15 PM

​​By Prof. Kristopher Karnauskas
University of Colorado, Boulder
Host: Prof. Georgiy Stenchikov
Venue: Lecture Hall 1 (2322), Engineering and Science Hall (Building 9)

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Abstract: The planning and implementation of global wind energy resources are being conducted in the context of today’s climate. However, as anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions continue to modify the global atmospheric circulation, future changes in the near–surface climate must be considered to maximize the power generating potential of available wind energy technology. Here we investigate large–scale changes in wind power across the globe in response to high and low future emissions scenarios by applying an industry wind turbine power curve to the future simulations of an ensemble of 10 fully coupled global climate models (GCMs). At the planetary scale, our calculations reveal strong hemispheric asymmetry, involving decreases across the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes and increases across the tropics and Southern Hemisphere. The changes across the northern midlatitudes are robust responses at both mid-21st century and late 21st century time periods and in both high and low emissions scenarios, whereas the Southern Hemisphere changes appear critically sensitive to emissions scenario. Amid these planetary scale patterns are regional variations of substantial magnitude. These patterns are largely explainable through simple climate diagnostics that implicate polar amplification for the northern midlatitude decrease, and enhanced land-sea thermal gradients driving the tropical and southern subtropical increases.


Bi​o: Kris Karnauskas is a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) at theUniversity of Colorado Boulder. Prior to joining the CU Boulder faculty, Kris spent six years on the faculty of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography (also teaching at Boston College) followed by a sabbatical at the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (IPSL) in Paris, France. Kris completed his B.S. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Ph.D. at the University of Maryland-College Park, both in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship inOcean and Climate Physics at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. Kris currently serves as Editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans and on the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) of U.S. CLIVAR.​