Estimation of persistence and trends in geostrophic wind speed for the assessment of wind energy yields in Northwest Europe
Wind climate in Northwest Europe is subject to long-term persistence (LTP), also called the Hurst phenomenon. Ignorance of LTP causes underestimation of climatic variability. The quantification of multi-year variability is important for the assessment of the uncertainty of future multi-year wind yields. Estimating LTP requires long homogeneous time series. Such series of wind observations are rare, but annual mean geostrophic wind speed ( U ) can be used instead. This study demonstrates a method to estimate the 10-year aggregated mean U for the near and the far future and its uncertainty in Northwest Europe. Time series of U were derived from daily sea level pressure from the European Climate Assessment Dataset. Minor inhomogeneities cannot be ruled out, but were shown to hardly affect the estimated Hurst exponent $$(H)$$ . A maximum likelihood method was adjusted to remove the biases in $$H$$ . The geostrophic wind speed over the North Sea, the British Isles and along the Scandinavian coast are characterised by statistically significant H between 0.58 and 0.74, ( H = 0.5 implies no LTP). The additional affect of the parameter uncertainty is estimated in a Bayesian way and is highly dependent on the record length. The assessment of structural changes in future wind fields requires general circulation models. An ensemble of seventeen simulations (ESSENCE) with one single climate model (ECHAM5/MPI-OM) was used to evaluate structural trends and LTP. The estimated $$H$$ in the ESSENCE simulations are generally close to 0.5 and not significant. Significant trends in U are found over large parts of the investigated domain, but the trends are small compared to the multi-year variability. Large decreasing trends are found in the vicinity of Iceland and increasing trends near the Greenland coast. This is likely related to the sea ice retreat within the ESSENCE simulations and the associated change in surface temperature gradients.