Hurricane taming

In this study, published in Nature Climate Change, we investigated the effects of large arrays of offshore wind turbines on coastal winds and storm surge levels during hurricanes. We used a complex atmospheric and ocean model called GATOR-GCMOM that extracts kinetic energy from the winds just like wind turbines do.

We found that the reduced winds over the ocean surface caused a reduction in storm surge levels over land, due to the lower wind stress upwind of the coast. Storm surge levels in New Orleans were up to 70% lower with turbines than without. Similarly, during Sandy the storm surge could have been reduced by up to 34% with turbines.

We also found that a feedback occurred between the hurricane and the turbines, such that the hurricane was weakened by up to 40 mb during Katrina (and up to 5 mb during Sandy).

We tested the sensitivity of our results to turbine type, number, and location and found that the results withstand but are sensitive to those parameters in a non-linear fashion.

Please follow the links to the University of Delaware and Stanford University press releases.

The figure below shows examples of the 15-m wind speed distributions and changes in sea level pressure, with and without wind turbines, during Katrina and Sandy.





Featured Faculty

Cristina Archer

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Professor Physical Ocean Science and Engineering


CEOE School & Departments

School of Marine Science & Policy

Advancing the understanding, stewardship, and conservation of estuarine, coastal, and ocean environments.

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Department of Geological Sciences

Discovering how geological processes have operated over various time scales to create and influence the planet’s surface environments.

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Department of Geography

Investigating the interactions between people and the environment and the processes that explain the location of human and natural phenomena.

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