Importance of location for describing typical and extreme wind speed behavior



[1] Several recent studies have considered the potential impact of climate change on regional wind intensity. However, previous wind speed studies in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) present conflicting results for wind speed trends in relation to climate drivers. This study analyzes the percentiles (50th, 75th, and 95th) of the strongly positively skewed distributions for PNW maximum daily wind speeds from 92 meteorological stations, and reveals different behaviors for average and extreme wind speeds. Considerably stronger winds are found at coastal locations compared with sites further inland. Extreme wind speeds at these coastal locations appear to follow an eight to nine-year cyclic pattern, while mainland sites have a small, linear downward wind speed trend. This finding of a behavioral dependence on location helps reconcile previous, apparently contradictory results and has important global implications for wind research and infrastructure planning, such as wind energy feasibility studies and air quality management activities.