High-resolution multi-model projections of onshore wind resources over Portugal under a changing climate

Nogueira M, Soares PMM, Tomé R
Theor Appl Climatol (2018),

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We present a detailed evaluation of wind energy density (WED) over Portugal, based on the EURO-CORDEX database of high resolution regional climate model (RCM) simulations. Most RCMs showed reasonable accuracy in reproducing the observed near-surface wind speed. The climatological patterns of WED displayed large sub-regional heterogeneity, with higher values over coastal regions and steep orography. Subsequently, we investigated the future changes of WED throughout the twenty-first century, considering mid- and end-century periods, and two emission scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). On the yearly average, the multi-model ensemble WED changes were below 10% (15%) under RCP4.5 (RCP8.5). However, the projected WED anomalies displayed strong seasonality, dominated by low positive values in summer (< 10% for both scenarios), negative values in winter and spring (up to -10% (-20%) under RCP4.5 (RCP8.5)), and stronger negative anomalies in autumn (up to -25% (-35%) under RCP4.5 (RCP8.5)). These projected WED anomalies displayed large sub-regional variability. The largest reductions (and lowest increases) are linked to the northern and central-eastern elevated terrain, and the southwestern coast. In contrast, the largest increases (and lowest reductions) are linked to the central-western orographic features of moderate elevation. The projections also showed changes in inter-annual variability of WED, with small increases for annual averages, but with distinct behavior when considering year-to-year variability over a specific season: small increases in winter, larger increases in summer, slight decrease in autumn, and no relevant change in spring. The changes in inter-annual variability also displayed strong dependence on the underlying terrain. Finally, we found significant model spread in the magnitude of projected WED anomalies and inter-annual variability, affecting even the signal of the changes.