Investigating the effects of Pacific sea surface temperatures on the wind drought of 2015 over the United States


Llorenç Lledó Omar Bellprat Francisco J. Doblas‐Reyes Albert Soret
Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, Volume123, Issue10, 27 May 2018, Pages 4837-4849

During the first quarter of 2015 the United States experienced a widespread and extended episode of low surface wind speeds. This episode had a strong impact on wind power generation. Some wind farms did not generate enough cash for their steady payments, and the value of some assets decreased. Although the wind industry expressed their concerns, the episode has not received much attention from the scientific community and remains weakly understood. In this paper we aim to fill this gap and advance understanding of the underlying processes at seasonal time scales. Using retrospective climate predictions, we find that high sea surface temperatures in the western tropical Pacific ocean associated with a strongly positive phase of the North Pacific Mode played a central role to establish and maintain those wind anomalies. In a more general way it has also been shown that interannual variability of wind speed over North America is not only dominated by El Niño/Southern Oscillation but also by other sea surface temperature variations in the tropical Pacific. This new knowledge can be useful for industry stakeholders to anticipate future periods of low wind speed.