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On infrasound generated by wind farms and its propagation in low-altitude tropospheric waveguides

[Abstract]
Infrasound from a 60‐turbine wind farm was found to propagate to distances up to 90 km under nighttime atmospheric conditions. Four infrasound sensor arrays were deployed in central New Mexico in February 2014; three of these arrays captured infrasound from a large wind farm. The arrays were in a linear configuration oriented southeast with 13, 54, 90, and 126 km radial distances and azimuths of 166°, 119°, 113°, and 111° from the 60 1.6 MW turbine Red Mesa Wind Farm, Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico, USA. Peaks at a fundamental frequency slightly below 0.9 Hz and its harmonics characterize the spectrum of the detected infrasound. The generation of this signal is linked to the interaction of the blades, flow gradients, and the supporting tower. The production of wind‐farm sound, its propagation, and detection at long distances can be related to the characteristics of the atmospheric boundary layer. First, under stable conditions, mostly occurring at night, winds are highly stratified, which enhances the production of thickness sound and the modulation of other higher‐frequency wind turbine sounds. Second, nocturnal atmospheric conditions can create low‐altitude waveguides (with altitudes on the order of hundreds of meters) allowing long‐distance propagation. Third, night and early morning hours are characterized by reduced background atmospheric noise that enhances signal detectability. This work describes the characteristics of the infrasound from a quasi‐continuous source with the potential for long‐range propagation that could be used to monitor the lower part of the atmospheric boundary layer.

Omar Marcillo, Philip Blom, Earth and Environmental Science, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico
Stephen Arrowsmith, Kyle Jones, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmosphere, 120, 9855–9868, doi:10.1002/2014JD022821.

On infrasound generated by wind farms and its propagation in low‐altitude tropospheric waveguides [1]