Rutgers Researchers Study How Sea Breezes Could Affect Offshore Wind

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New Jersey’s Rutgers University is leading a study on how offshore wind breezes could benefit the production of offshore wind farms.

The behavior of offshore sea breezes and how the ocean influences them have largely been mysteries until now, according to lead author Greg Seroka, who earned a doctorate in physical oceanography at Rutgers and is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist.

“We’ve developed a technique to characterize and predict sea breezes, which could be critically beneficial for offshore wind turbine construction planning, operations and maintenance – and help make wind a reliable substitute for fossil fuels,” says Seroka, who worked with Rutgers associate professor Josh Kohut, assistant professor Travis Miles and distinguished professor Scott Glenn in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences on the research.

The study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, combined a sophisticated statistical analysis technique with a weather forecasting model to assess sea breezes near-shore and offshore, says Rutgers.

The Rutgers-led team studied sea breezes that cross the New Jersey Wind Energy Area, a federally designated zone off Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties.

They found that during the summer, sea breezes often arise on hot afternoons when energy demands peak, but conditions change when winds from the southwest push warm surface water away from shore. This causes upwelling of much colder bottom water that hits beaches, chills swimmers, and causes offshore sea breezes to begin about five hours earlier than normal and become more intense, according to the researchers. The study also found that winds blowing over coastal lands keep near-shore sea breezes from moving inland, but the land-based winds have little effect on sea breezes offshore.

Based on these findings, the researchers say sea breezes offshore will be much more predictable for the offshore wind industry. Erick Fredj, a computer science professor at the Jerusalem College of Technology, and Rich Dunk, a consultant and principal meteorologist for the Rutgers Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, also contributed to the study.

The Rutgers researchers’ next steps include learning more about all types of sea breezes to improve their prediction.

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