Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Sescu, Adrian

Committee Member

Thompson, David S.

Committee Member

Janus, J. Mark

Committee Member

Bhatia, Manav

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Aerospace Engineering

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Department of Aerospace Engineering


Previous simulations have shown that wind farms have an impact on the near-surface atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) as turbulent wakes generated by the turbines enhance vertical mixing of momentum, heat and moisture. These changes alter downstream atmospheric properties. With the exception of a few observational data sets that focus on the impact to near-surface temperature within wind farms, little to no observational evidence exists with respect to vertical mixing. These few experimental studies also lack high spatial resolution due to their use of a limited number of meteorological sensors or remote sensing techniques. This study utilizes an instrumented small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) to gather high resolution in-situ field measurements from two state-of-the-art Midwest wind farms in order to differentially map downstream changes to relative humidity. These measurements are complemented by numerical experiments conducted using large eddy simulation (LES). Observations and numerical predictions are in good general agreement around a single wind turbine and show that downstream relative humidity is altered in the vertical, lateral, and downstream directions. A suite of LES is then performed to determine the effect of a turbine array on the relative humidity distribution in compounding wakes. In stable and neutral conditions, and in the presence of a positive relative humidity lapse rate, it is found that the humidity decreases below the turbine hub height and increases above the hub height. As the array is transitioned, the magnitude of change increases, differentially grows on the left-hand and right-hand side of the wake, and move slightly upward with downstream distance. In unstable conditions, the magnitude of near-surface decrease in relative humidity is a full order of magnitude smaller than that observed in a stable atmospheric regime.