We study the wind climate and its long-term variability in the North Sea and South China Sea, areas relevant for offshore wind energy development, using satellite-based wind data, because very few reliable long-term in-situ sea surface wind observations are available. The Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) ocean winds extrapolated from 10 m to 100 m using the Charnock relationship and the logarithmic profile method are compared to Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model results in both seas and to in-situ observations in the North Sea. The mean wind speed from SSM/I and WRF differ only by 0.1 m/s at Fino1 in the North Sea, while west of Hainan in the South China Sea the difference is 1.0 m/s. Linear regression between SSM/I and WRF winds at 100 m show correlation coefficients squared of 0.75 and 0.67, standard deviation of 1.67 m/s and 1.41 m/s, and mean difference of −0.12 m/s and 0.83 m/s for Fino1 and Hainan, respectively. The WRF-derived winds overestimate the values in the South China Sea. The inter-annual wind speed variability is estimated as 4.6% and 4.4% based on SSM/I at Fino1 and Hainan, respectively. We find significant changes in the seasonal wind pattern at Fino1 with springtime winds arriving one month earlier from 1988 to 2013 and higher winds in June; no yearly trend in wind speed is observed in the two seas.
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