El Niño stills winter winds across the southern Canadian Prairies

Scott St. George, Stephen A. Wolfe

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Analysis of long-term terrestrial wind speed (u) records demonstrates that interannual variability is a major component of near-surface wind dynamics in the southern Canadian Prairies (SCP). Since the early 1950s, there have been several periods when negative anomalies in regional u persisted for 8 to 13 consecutive months, with anomalies for individual months exceeding -1 m s -1. Calm conditions on the SCP usually coincided with negative u anomalies across much of western Canada, and nearly all low-wind events occurred during a 'moderate' or 'stronger' El Niño. Wind energy facilities in the SCP have been built during a period of relatively stable wind conditions, and the next El Niño may test their ability to maintain expected energy outputs. El Niño may affect u in other parts of the North American wind corridor and be useful for predicting seasonal or interannual changes in regional wind energy production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL23806
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2009


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