Radiometrics Corporation (formerly Atmospheric Systems Corporation)

Advanced offshore measurements to support wind energy production, weather forecasting, and emergency response


Sonoma Technology, Inc. (STI), with support from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, is leading a unique partnership of corporate, government, and university researchers to develop a marine environmental observations program in the Gulf of Mexico. The primary goal of this project is to develop a framework of advanced offshore measurements to support emergency response, oil and gas exploration and lease decisions, wind energy research and development, and meteorological and air quality forecasting.

The measurement program, which began in October 2010, includes advanced in situ and remote meteorological and oceanographic sensors. The sensors are deployed on a Chevron platform to collect boundary layer and sea surface data sufficient to support these applications.

Observations include measurements of boundary layer winds using Atmospheric Systems’ 4000 Series minisodar; profiles of temperature, relative humidity, and liquid water from Radiometrics’ MP3000 microwave radiometer; cloud base heights and boundary layer heights collected using Vaisala’s CL-31 ceilometer; sea surface temperature; wave height and frequency; solar and infrared radiation; and turbulent momentum and heat fluxes. This project has resulted in the collection of unprecedented measurements over the Gulf of Mexico that captures a range of meteorological and oceanographic interactions for all seasons.

Operating for over 15 months, Radiometrics’ microwave radiometer has been providing continuous atmospheric profiles. In conjunction with the other measurements, data from the radiometer are being used to characterize and understand boundary layer processes over the Gulf. In the data example below right, the top of the boundary layer is evident on January 11, 2011, at the interface between the cold continental air as it moved over the Gulf and the warm marine air above.

Atmospheric Systems’ minisodar was customized to withstand the harsh marine environment for a long period with virtually no maintenance or downtime. Its physical and electronic systems eliminate substantial platform acoustic noise that would normally interfere with the measurements. The system is allowing us to collect high-resolution boundary layer wind data at the heights needed to evaluate wind energy production and boundary layer processes that influence winds over the ocean. Examples of the minisodar data and how the data could be used to evaluate wind energy potential are shown below.

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