Low-level jets over the North Sea based on ERA5 and observations: together they do better

Peter C. Kalverla*, James B. Duncan Jr., Gert-Jan Steeneveld, Albert A.M. Holtslag

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


Ten years of ERA5 reanalysis data are combined with met-mast and lidar observations from 10 offshore platforms to investigate low-level jet characteristics over the Dutch North Sea. The objective of this study is to combine the best of two worlds: (1) ERA5 data with a large spatiotemporal extent but inherent accuracy limitations due to a relatively coarse grid and an incomplete representation of physical processes and (2) observations that provide more reliable estimates of the measured quantity but are limited in both space and time. We demonstrate the effect of time and range limitations on the reconstructed wind climate, with special attention paid to the impact on low-level jets.
For both measurement and model data, the representation of wind speed is biased. The limited temporal extent of observations leads to a wind speed bias on the order of ±1 m s−1 as compared to the long-term mean. In part due to data-assimilation strategies that cause abrupt discontinuities in the diurnal cycle, ERA5 also exhibits a wind speed bias of approximately 0.5 m s−1. The representation of low-level jets in ERA5 is poor in terms of a one-to-one correspondence, and the jets appear vertically displaced (“smeared out”). However, climatological characteristics such as the shape of the seasonal cycle and the affinity with certain circulation patterns are represented quite well, albeit with different magnitudes. We therefore experiment with various methods to adjust the modelled low-level jet rate to the observations or, vice versa, to correct for the erratic nature of the short observation periods using long-term ERA5 information. While quantitative uncertainty is still quite large, the presented results provide valuable insight into North Sea low-level jet characteristics. These jets occur predominantly for circulation types with an easterly component, with a clear peak in spring, and are concentrated along the coasts at heights between 50 and 200 m. Further, it is demonstrated that these characteristics can be used as predictors to infer the observed low-level jet rate from ERA5 data with reasonable accuracy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-209
JournalWind Energy Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019


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