Statistical analysis of observed and simulated hourly surface wind in the vicinity of the Panama Canal

Fang Yi Cheng, Konstantine P. Georgakakos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Surface wind patterns at the Panama Canal vicinity are identified on the basis of 6 years of observed hourly surface wind data and with the use of high-resolution numerical model simulations. Statistical analysis of the observed wind at various stations in the Panama Canal is presented, together with the analysis of simulated surface wind fields that are obtained from the MM5 mesoscale meteorological model using surface wind assimilation and forced by North American regional reanalysis data. The performance analysis indicates that the 2-km-resolution MM5 model surface wind simulations have skill when compared with the observations at the measurement sites. The analysis of the wind fields for the period 2002-2007 shows that the dry season (January to April) is more spatially and temporally coherent than the wet season in the region. The simulated wind shows that the average wind speed reaches up to 7-8 m s-1 and the frequency of exceeding 5 m s-1 reaches up to 0.7-0.8 in Lake Gatun, the entrance/exit of the Canal in the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, and at high elevations. The dry season exhibits higher climatological wind speeds and exceedence frequencies than the wet season but the wet season shows greater spatial variability. For both seasons, the morning hours have lower average winds than the evening hours. The analysis underlines the significant influence of convection, sea breeze and local conditions (elevation gradients and land surface cover) in the observed and simulated surface wind patterns. The information presented herein, particularly as regards the Canal centerline results, may be useful for identifying the effects of air pollution from sources aboard transiting cargo ships on large communities in the Canal vicinity (e.g. Panama City). Information presented is also relevant to regional wind energy studies and fog formation analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)770-782
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Volume31
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2011

Keywords

  • Boundary layer winds
  • MM5 wind assimilation
  • Panama Canal surface winds

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