Projected cross-shore changes in upwelling induced by offshore wind farm development along the California coast

In California offshore waters, sustained northwesterly winds have been identified as a key resource that can contribute substantially to renewable energy goals. However, the development of large-scale offshore wind farms can reduce the wind stress at the sea surface, which could affect wind-driven upwelling, nutrient delivery, and ecosystem dynamics. Here we examine changes to upwelling using atmospheric and ocean circulation numerical models together with a hypothetical upper bound buildout scenario of 877 turbines spread across three areas of interest. Wind speed changes are found to reduce upwelling on the inshore side of windfarms and increase upwelling on the offshore side. These changes, when expressed in terms of widely used metrics for upwelling volume transport and nutrient delivery, show that while the net upwelling in a wide coastal band changes relatively little, the spatial structure of upwelling within this coastal region can be shifted outside the bounds of natural variability.

In California offshore waters, sustained northwesterly winds have been identified as a key resource that can contribute substantially to renewable energy goals. However, the development of large-scale offshore wind farms can reduce the wind stress at the sea surface, which could affect wind-driven upwelling, nutrient delivery, and ecosystem dynamics. Here we examine changes to upwelling using atmospheric and ocean circulation numerical models together with a hypothetical upper bound buildout scenario of 877 turbines spread across three areas of interest. Wind speed changes are found to reduce upwelling on the inshore side of windfarms and increase upwelling on the offshore side. These changes, when expressed in terms of widely used metrics for upwelling volume transport and nutrient delivery, show that while the net upwelling in a wide coastal band changes relatively little, the spatial structure of upwelling within this coastal region can be shifted outside the bounds of natural variability.

Disciplines

Physical oceanography

Keywords

offshore wind, upwelling, ocean circulation, environmental effects, nutrient delivery, California Current

Location

48N, 32S, -134E, -115.5W

Devices

NetCDF files to reproduce figures 2-9.

Data

FileSizeFormatProcessingAccess
Figure data for Figure 2b
72 KoNetCDFProcessed data
Figure data for Figure 3a
18 KoNetCDFProcessed data
Figure data for Figure 3b (data)
149 KoNetCDFProcessed data
Figure data for Figure 3b (model)
149 KoNetCDFProcessed data
Figure data for Figure 4
3 MoNetCDFProcessed data
Figure data for Figure 5
1 MoNetCDFProcessed data
Figure data for Figure 6
1 MoNetCDFProcessed data
Figure data for Figure 7 (left)
9 KoNetCDFProcessed data
Figure data for Figure 7 (right)
9 KoNetCDFProcessed data
Figure data for Figure 8
7 MoNetCDFProcessed data
Figure data for Figure 9
32 KoNetCDFProcessed data
How to cite
Raghukumar Kaustubha, Nelson Timothy, Jacox Michael, Chartrand Christopher, Fiechter Jerome, Chang Grace, Cheung Lawrence, Roberts Jesse (2023). Projected cross-shore changes in upwelling induced by offshore wind farm development along the California coast. SEANOE. https://doi.org/10.17882/94046
In addition to properly cite this dataset, it would be appreciated that the following work(s) be cited too, when using this dataset in a publication :
Raghukumar Kaustubha, Nelson Timothy, Jacox Michael, Chartrand Christopher, Fiechter Jerome, Chang Grace, Cheung Lawrence, Roberts Jesse (2023). Projected cross-shore changes in upwelling induced by offshore wind farm development along the California coast. Communications Earth & Environment, 4 (1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-023-00780-y

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