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An approach to the mapping of the statistical

properties of gradient winds (over Canada)

A. G. Davenport & C. J. Baynes

To cite this article: A. G. Davenport & C. J. Baynes (1972) An approach to the mapping of the
statistical properties of gradient winds (over Canada), Atmosphere, 10:3, 80-92

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An Approach to the Mapping of the Statistical Properties of are relatively inde]
Gradient Winds (Over Canada) using theoretical i
tions. Furthermol
A. G. Davenport and C. J. Baynes geographic regior
relatively remote
Faculty of Engineering Science, The University of Western Ontario,
gradient wind cha
London, Canada
in this paper.
[Manuscript received 27 March 19721

2 Statistical descr
Several interrelatt
gradient wind clir
This paper describes the preparation The analysis and subsequent map- a) The distribu
of a preliminary set of maps of gra- ping were carried out for 300 and 500 m the cyclic sea
dient-level wind climate over Canada above ground level and were based on b) The distribu
and some neighbouring regions of the a number of statistical models: the C) The distribu
United States. The data for this study bivariate Gaussian distribution of The theoretical b:
were drawn from twice-daily records wind velocities characterized by the
of radiosonde ascents at a network of vector mean and standard vector a The Bivariate h
ten Canadian upper air stations. The deviation, monthly Weibull distribu- Earlier work by E
period covered by the data was tions of wind speed and a new model upper level winds
1960-69, and this was supplemented of extreme annual wind occurrences approximated by
by statistical information on upper developed from a consideration of equal standard (
level winds at fourteen points in the wind as a stochastic process. south) directions
United States. This is written:

1 Introduction
Improved information on mean wind behaviour at or near ground level is
needed in a growing number of important areas of application, including opera- where Vx and V y
tional and environmental planning, aviation, and structural engineering. In the
latter case, for example, the prediction of wind loading is often made more
v =their
- (VX2 +
difficult by a lack of observational data representative of the wind climate at the is shown in Fig. I
site of a proposed structure and reflecting the interference of local topographical The model imp
features. tally isotropic tu
Hitherto, it has been the general practice to derive the required statistical I suggested in whic
descriptions from surface observations at nearby points, such as airports and proposed appears
harbours. Unfortunately, the quality and consistency of these observations and the prelimina
may be affected by the local and directional character of the terrain, the siting + Maps of o anc
and possible relocation of the anemometer and the encroachment of urban 1300 m above m
development. Occasionally, adjustments can be made for terrain influences however, above tl
using wind tunnel tests on scale topographic models or anemometer/site
correlations, but this cannot be done regularly. These difficulties in establishing b Distribution of
wind climate at a particular location have been discussed more fully in earlier It is found straigl
papers (Davenport, 1960, 1968). probability densi
An alternative approach is to describe wind climate in terms of winds at given by:
gradient height. These occur at the top of the atmospheric boundary layer and

Atmosphere Volume 10 Number 3 1972 Statir

1 7 of are relatively independent of terrain effects. Winds at lower levels can be deduced
using theoretical and empirical wind profiles appropriate to the terrain condi-
! tions. Furthermore, the wind climate at gradient height is applicable to broad
FS geographic regions and so can be determined from observations at points
Western Ontario, relatively remote from the site in question, or more usefully, from maps of
gradient wind characteristics. The initial development of these maps is described
in this paper.

2 Statistical descriptions of gradient wind climate

t Several interrelated statistical models are employed in the description of the
gradient wind climate presented here. These comprise:
s and subsequent map-
a) The distribution of wind velocities having regard for direction; because of
ied out for 300 and 500 m
level and were based on t the cyclic seasonal variations, these are broken down into monthly periods.
b) The distribution of scalar wind speeds.
statistical models: the
c) The distribution of the extreme annual wind speeds.
ussian distribution of
:s characterized by the The theoretical background is summarized below.
and standard vector a The Bioariate Normal Distribution of Wind Velocities
~nthlyWeibull distribu- Earlier work by Brooks et al. (1946) showed that the statistical distribution of
speed and a new model upper level winds above the immediate frictional influence of the earth can be
~ n u a lwind occurrences approximated by an isotropic, two-dimensional Gaussian distribution with
,rn a consideration of equal standard deviations in the zonal (east-west) and meridional (north-
:hastic process. south) directions and no correlation between the fluctuating components.
This is written:

>r near ground level is

ication, including opera-
where Vx and Vy are the zonal and meridional velocity components, Vx and Vy
tural engineering. In the
are their respective means, (T is the standard vector deviation and the quantity
ng is often made more
V = ( E 2 + Vy2)112denotes the uector mean wind. The form of this distribution
f the wind climate at the is shown in Fig. 1.
:e of local topographical
The model implies that the mean flow at a point can be treated as a horizon-
tally isotropic turbulent flow. Although more sophisticated models can be
I the required statistical I
suggested in which the distribution is not assumed isotropic, the simpler model
ts, such as airports and
proposed appears more appropriate from the viewpoint of statistical confidence
I of these observations
and the preliminary nature of the study.
of the terrain, the siting t
Maps of o and V over Canada for isobaric surfaces above 850 mb (about
encroachment of urban
1300 m above msl) have already been obtained by Henry (1957); they are,
: for terrain influences
however, above the altitudes of interest here.
:Is or anemometerlsite
ifficulties in establishing b Distribution of Scalar Wind Speeds
ied more fully in earlier It is found straightforwardly that if the vector mean wind is zero ( V = O), the
probability density function of the scalar wind speed V = (vX2+ v ~ * ) " is ~
te in terms of winds a t given by:
xic boundary layer and p(V) = (V/02)e - V212"2 (2)

Statistical Properties of Gradient Winds (Over Canada) 81



Fig. 1 Bivariate Gaussian distribution of wind velocity.

This is the Rayleigh distribution. It has the cumulative distribution:

P ( > V ) = e-vaiZua (3)
If V is non-zero the form of the distribution is more complicated and closed
form solutions d o not appear to exist. An alternative is t o express the wind
speed probability in terms of the Weibull distribution:
P ( > V ) = e-(vic)k (4)
in which c and k are constants. If k = 2, (4) reduces to the Rayleigh distribution.
The additional flexibility of the variable exponent k enables most wind speed
data to be fitted successfully. As an example, Fig. 2 shows the Weibull distribu-
tion for January winds at 300 m over Churchill, Manitoba. Not unexpectedly,
k in this case, as in most others, is close to 2.
c Distribution of Extreme Annzral Wind Speeds t
Considering first a somewhat simplified approach, it can be shown that the
extremes of a Weibull or Rayleigh distribution, which are of the exponential
type, have an asymptotic distribution of the Fisher-Tippett Type I. This is
written :
P ( < V ) = exp{- [ e - a ( v - u ) ] ) (5) I

in which U is the mode and lla is the dispersion. If we assume that the record
of wind speeds consists of N independent samples, it can be shown that:


A.G. Davenport and C.J. Baynes




ted and closed
press the wind

:h distribution.
1st wind speed
eibull distribu-

]own that the

ie exponential
ipe I. This is

iat the record
'n that:


Fig. 2 Weibull distribution of wind speed (Churchill, Man., January, alt: 300 rn).

Statistical Properties of Gradient Winds (Over Canada)

Unfortunately, the requirement that the samples be independent makes this Now, if
approach inappropriate where wind speeds over consecutive intervals are
correlated. Crude estimates of the extremes can be made, however, if a reduced
number of effective independent samples is substituted for N .
A more satisfactory approach considers the wind as a continuous process as and
follows. Let N ( V ) T be the expected number of times the wind speed V is crossed
during the period T under consideration. It can be shown that these crossings
become independent rare events for the higher values of V from which, it is
expected, the extremes will be drawn. The distribution of the crossings can then Thus, fror
be treated as Poisson and the probability of there being no crossings, i.e., no
wind speed greater than V, is given by:
I in which
Owing to the seasonal character of the wind, the expected crossing rate N ( V ) 7
varies through the year. If the crossing rate during a specified period of the year
is written N i ( V ) , we can express the probability distribution for an entire year of If the sur
m periods as: Examinat
cycleslh. '
The dis
Type I di
N ( V ) can be calculated from Rice's (1954) expression:
the mode

and the d
where p(V, V) is the joint probability density function of the wind speed V and
its derivative k
If it is assumed that the wind process is stationary, V and are
and p(V, V) = p ( V ) p( v). Then, Generallj
N(V) = CP(V)
in which 3 Data a
provide r
provide (
If the distribution of V is assumed normal, it can be shown that; United S
was chos
c = &ov (13) definitive
in which r
The wi
were ana
the lowe
heavily b
L 1 For Can,
is the average rate at which the mean value of V is crossed. Sv(n) is the spectral from the
density of the process at frequency n and o is the standard deviation of V . decade 1'

84 A.G. Davenport and C.J. Baynes

ndent makes this Now, if the parent probability distribution is that of Weibull for each period i :
ive intervals are
lever, if a reduced

inuous process as and

;peed V is crossed
at these crossings
from which, it is
oi 0.93 C' for the range (1.5 < k i < 2.2)

rossings can then Thus, from Equations (9), (1 I), and (13) the extreme value distribution becomes:
:rossings, i.e., no

(8) in which
,ossing rate N(V) s
)eriod of the year
an entire year of If the summation in (17) refers to twelve monthly intervals, then T 720 h.
Examination of several long duration atmospheric spectra suggest that v 0.1
cycleslh. Typically, therefore, B is taken as 170.
The distribution described in (17) can be approximated by a Fisher-Tippett
Type I distribution fitted at its mode; this is illustrated in Fig. 3. In this case,
the mode U is given by the solution to:

and the dispersion factor (denoting the left-hand side of (19) by C) is
rind speed V and

are uncorrelated
Generally speaking, the Fisher-Tippett approximation obtained in this way is
reasonably satisfactory, except near the tails of the distribution.

3 Data and treatment

Twenty-four upper air stations in Canada and the United States were selected to
provide radiosonde data for this study (Map 1). The selection was intended to
provide coverage of Canada south of 60°N and neighbouring regions of the
United States, particularly the northeastern states. A greater density of points
was chosen in the populous areas of Ontario and Quebec, so as to obtain more
definitive results in this region.
The wind observations, taken twice daily at all stations (0000 and 1200 GMT),
were analyzed at 300 and 500 m above ground level, corresponding roughly to
the lower and upper limits of gradient height, that is, over very smooth and
heavily built-up terrains respectively. In the case of the U.S. locations, statistical
analyses were already available for these levels, generally for the period 1960-64.
For Canada, however, histograms and statistical parameters had to be reduced
I) is the spectral from the punched card records of the individual balloon ascents during the
ltion of V. decade 1960-1969. Simple linear interpolation was used to estimate conditions at

Statistical Properties of Gradient Winds (Over Canada) 85


Fig. 3 Extreme annual wind distributions (Churchill, Man., January, alt: 300 m ) .

the desired levels from the observations at the standard isobaric surfaces
(ground level and at 50-mb intervals above 1000 mb). ,f
The monthly values of vector mean winds and standard vector deviations
were computed for each station and a smoothing function applied to the annual
cycle. Fig. 4 illustrates the smoothing process and the presence of clear seasonal e
trends in both o and V, The examples shown are for the 300-m level at Churchill,
Maps of smoothed monthly values of o and V were then developed. The
contours were drawn by a systematic procedure involving a digital computer
and plotter and a standard mapping program (uwo, 1969). The results for the
months of January, April, July, and October at 300 m are presented here
(Maps 2-9). Directions of the mean vector winds are not shown. In general these
were found to be within a few degrees of west except near the Rocky Mountains

86 A.G. Davenport and C.J. Baynes




Map 1: Radiosonde stations.

where southerly and northerly components also were found west and east of the
mountains, respectively.
Weibull distributions were fitted to the observations of wind speed for each
month by the method of maximum likelihood. The method consists of maxi-
mizing the likelihood function of the observations, IIY=, p(Vi, c, k), with
respect to the Weibull parameters c and k, where V, are the sample values of
wind speed.
The distributions of extreme wind speeds were established from the monthly
Weibull parameters at each station and level in the manner outlined above in
Equation (17). The modes, U , and dispersions, Ila, of the corresponding fitted
Fisher-Tippett Type I distributions were found from Equations (19) and (20)
and mapped together with the 30-year return winds, that is, wind speeds which
y, alt: 300 m). have a probability of being exceeded once in 30 years (Maps 10-15).

4 Discussion of results
isobaric surfaces
a Vector Mean Winds and Standard Vector Deciations
The general west to east circulation over Canada was confirmed for the 300- and
vector deviations 500-m levels considered in this study, although the prevailing winds exhibited
died to the annual
strong southerly components on the Pacific seaboard throughout the annual
:of clear seasonal Q cycle. The magnitudes of the vector mean winds are comparatively high to the
level at Churchill,
southwest of the Great Lakes and extending northwest into southern Alberta
and southeastern British Columbia, particularly in the winter and autumn
n developed. The
months. Elsewhere, areas of high vector means are to be found along the
digital computer
Atlantic coast during most of the year and over Hudson Bay in winter.
-he results for the
Generally, the strongest circulation occurs in the winter. In the spring and
re presented here
summer, the pattern is more uniform but with a noticeable area of high vector
n. In general these
means moving progressively northward along the east coast. There appears to be
Rocky Mountains
a year-round region of low means over southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Statistical Properties of Gradicnt Winds (Over Canada) 87


t 1 I I I 1
I I I I I 1
Fig. 4 Annual cycles of vector mean winds and standard vector deviations (Churchill.
Man., alt: 300 m).

An area of low standard vector deviations is indicated over the mountainous .$

region in the Canadian west, although this observation must be qualified on circur
account of the relative scarcity of data for that region. Other notable features might
are the high deviations in the east during winter and spring, and to the west of
the Great Lakes in the spring; in the summer the pattern is again more uniform. b Exi
The patterns of both vector mean winds and standard vector deviations are The n
broadly similar to those found by Henry (1957) at the lowest level of his analysis, Type
850 mb (about 1300 m). However, where the distribution of the variate is fairly at a g
uniform, such as the standard vector deviation during the summer months, the a clo:

88 A.G. Davenport and C.J. Baynes

- -

I I \ -

Maps 2-5: Smoothed vector mean winds (mph). Alt.: 300 m .

0 A D J
deviations (Churchill.
Maps 6-9: Smoothed standard vector deviations of winds (mph). Alt.: 300 m.

er the mountainous a
similarity may not be so marked. But, as Henry himself has pointed out, in these
ust be qualified on
circumstances the contours are sensitive to small changes in the variate, such as
ler notable features
might be obtained if a different period of record were used.
, and to the west of
gain more uniform. b Extreme Wind Speeds
:ctor deviations are The maps of the modes and dispersions ( U and lla) of the fitted Fisher-Tippett
level of his analysis, Type I distributions may be used to estimate the maximum wind speed expected
the variate is fairly at a given location in a given period. Although these estimates will provide only
~mmermonths, the a close approximation to those derived from the original distributions, it is seen

Statistical Properties of Gradient Winds (Over Canada)

I L T 3 0 0 MET

LT 5 0 0 METRE

Map 16: Hc

Maps 10-15: Extreme wind statistics. c Limitatio

It should b
from Fig. 3 that any errors will tend to be on the conservative side from the a first attel
design point of view. The validit
Areas of both high modal winds and dispersions will experience the greatest ticular the I
probabilities of high extreme winds, for example, along the Atlantic coast. I n stations in
fact, in this region a check of U and l l a values may be made against Davenport's ous locatio
(1 968) estimates for these parameters at gradient height, based on surface wind even at 30(
records and considerations of terrain roughness. There is close agreement in the map
for values of U over the Canadian maritime provinces but a significant difference ? It is als
in values of I/a. Davenport estimated a mode of 79 mph and dispersion of measureme
7.9 mph, averaged over twelve stations. The contours for 500 m suggest modes i) wind
between 70 and 85 mph, but dispersions ranging from about 4.5 t o 6.5 mph. -P not rc
Davenport's figures for points along the east coast of the United States are ii) ball08
considerably higher for both U and lla, since they were based on observed into 1
"fastest miles of wind". The util
The 30-year return wind contours provide a comparison with the map of gradient hc
30-year return winds at ground level prepared for the National Building Code the 300 an1
of Canada (NRC, 1970) (Map 16). Although the contour patterns are quite
similar, the Building Code predicts wind speeds approximately 20 mph lower 5 Concludi
over large areas of Canada, as might be expected with surface winds. A prelimin

90 A.G. Davenport and C.J. Baynes

Map 16: Hourly wind mileage, annual probability 1/30 (from National Building Code
of Canada (NRC, 1970) ) .

c Limitations of This Study

It should be emphasized that the results presented in this paper represent only
re side from the a first attempt t o define the climate of winds at gradient height over Canada.
The validity of the maps is necessarily limited by the extent of the data, in par-
:nce the greatest ticular the relatively short periods of wind records and the sparsity of radiosonde
tlantic coast. In stations in the north and west. Moreover, the balloon observations a t mountain-
nst Davenport's ous locations, such as Port Hardy, will have been influenced by local topography,
on surface wind even at 300 and 500 m above ground level. These influences would be reflected
:lose agreement in the map contours for the surrounding region.
ficant difference 4 It is also necessary to point out some characteristics of the radiosonde
d dispersion of measurements which should be considered when interpreting the maps:
1 suggest modes i) wind velocities are essentially two-minute mean values and, therefore, d o
1.5 to 6.5 mph. a not reflect the occurrence of strong gusts,
iited States are ii) balloon ascents are twice daily a t set times, hence introducing small biases
:d on observed into the results due to the diurnal cycle.
The utility of the preliminary maps will also depend on the estimates of
ith the map of gradient height at a chosen location and then appropriate interpolation between
Building Code the 300 and 500-m contours.
terns are quite
20 mph lower 5 Concluding remarks
linds. A preliminary set of maps of wind climate at gradient height has been developed

Statistical Properties of Gradient Winds (Over Canada) 91

from radiosonde observations at some twenty-four Canadian and U.S. stations.
Statistical analysis of the data was carried out to determine the parameters of the
bivariate Gaussian distributions of wind velocities and the parameters of
extreme wind speed distributions at 300 and 500 m above ground level. These Members of
Marshall Tor
parameters were systematically mapped for much of Canada and the northern
United States. Congress, ~a
ticipated in th
Some confirmation of the results of the study are given by the following:
a) the patterns of vector mean winds and standard vector deviations are week in accor
broadly similar to those given by Henry (1957) for the 850-mb level; were presentee
b) maps of the modes of the extreme wind speed distributions agree closely Dr. Max P
with estimates made previously by Davenport (1968) for the Canadian CMS members
maritime provinces; there is, however, a significant difference in estimates ology of the N
the proposed
of the dispersions;
c) the contours of 30-year return winds are of similar pattern but with values I the next sever
about 20 mph higher than those given for ground level in the National Arctic environ
Building Code of Canada (NRC,1970).
Meteorology a
Acknowledgement The opening !
The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Atmospheric Environ- tral, AES)who
ment Service, Toronto, and the U.S. Weather Records Center, Asheville, N.c., of the Depart1
who provided data for this study. Data on extreme surface wind speeds were ticipated in pr
kindly made available by Mr. D. W. Boyd. The work was supported by a re- at Fort Smith
search grant from the Department of the Environment, Canada. In asking tk
(and perhaps
References blooded anim
covered that t
and N. CAR- over Catlada. Canada Dept. of Trans- (below about
RUTHERS, 1946: Upper winds over the port, Meteorol. Branch, 61 pp. show that a CI
World - Part I. Quart. I . Roy. Mereorol. NRC (NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL), 1970:
Soc., 7 2 , 55-73. Climatic information for building design
required, only
DAVENPORT, A.c., 1960: Rationale for de- in Canada. Suppl. No. 1 to the National in opcn areas
termining design wind velocities. J. Building Code of Canada, NRC, Ottawa, is known abou
Structural Division, Proc. ASCE, 86, No. 48 PP. mings) breed.
ST 5, 39-68. RICE, s.o., 1954: "Mathematical Analysis
a migration rc
, 1968: The dependence of wind of Random Noise" in Selected Papers on
loads on meteorological parameters. Noise atrd Stocllastic Processes (N. Wax,
known sufficie
Proc. o f Itrtl. Res. Semitlar otz Witid ed.). Dover, New York, 133-294. Secondly, b
Effectsotr Br~ilditrgsa t ~ dStrrretrrres, NRC, uwo (UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO), environment i
Ottawa. University of Toronto Press,
1969: UCON 2 User's Muti~ial.Cornput-
ing Centre, uwo.
1 simpler to stuc
number of spe
HENRY, T.J.G.,1957: Mups o f rrpper winds
Finally, the
to explore. Pr
velopers who
Little do they 1
resources and
ciency (10% :
A.G. Davenport and C.J. Baynes