Wind Climatology for Alaska: Historical and Future
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Wind Climatology for Alaska: Historical and Future
  • Published Date:

    2019

  • Source:
    Atmospheric and Climate Sciences, 9, 683-702
Filetype[PDF-4.95 MB]


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  • Description:
    Wind is a climate variable with major impacts on humans, ecosystems and infrastructure, especially in coastal regions with cold climates. Climate-related changes in high-wind events therefore have major implications for high-latitude residents, yet there has heretofore been no systematic evaluation of such changes in a framework spanning historical and future timeframes. In this study, hourly winds from surface station reports and from dynamical downscaling of winds simulated by two different global climate models have been synthesized into historical and future wind climatologies for Alaska. Quantile mapping procedures are used to calibrate wind simulations driven by an atmospheric reanalysis, and the calibrated winds are then used to bias-adjust the full distributions of historical and future winds downscaled from the global climate models. In the resulting climatologies, winds are generally stronger at coastal and offshore (island) locations than at interior sites, where calm conditions are frequent in winter. The season of peak wind speed varies from winter in the coastal and offshore locations to summer in interior areas. High-wind events determined from the hourly data are most frequent during winter at coastal locations. Projected changes for the late 21st century are statistically significant at many locations, and they show a qualitatively similar seasonality in the output from the two models: an increase of mean wind speeds in the cold season and a decrease of mean wind speeds in the warm season. High-wind events are projected by both models to become more frequent in the northern and western Alaska coastal regions, which are precisely the regions in which the protective sea ice cover has decreased (and is projected to decrease further), pointing to increased risks of coastal flooding and erosion.
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