Marine Energy: Integral to Study Potential Environmental Effects of California Offshore Wind Farms
July 1, 2020

Grace Chang, Ph.D., and Kaustubha Raghukumar, Ph.D., of Integral Consulting Inc. will investigate the effects of large-scale wind farms on California coastal upwelling, as part of an effort supported by the California Energy Commission (CEC). Charged with leading the state to a 100% clean energy future, the CEC is advancing research in renewable resources such as offshore wind to help meet climate and renewable energy goals.

Wind-driven coastal upwelling sustains the California marine ecosystem.

Dr. Chang is responsible for overall project management while Dr. Raghukumar will lead the technical effort. Changes in wind stress on the ocean surface will be modeled using a high-resolution atmospheric model that will incorporate the presence of wind turbines. The response of ocean circulation to wind forcing will then be modeled using the state-of-the-art Regional Ocean Modeling System.

Upwelling is a process in which cold, nutrient-rich water is drawn to the surface from deep below the waves—often caused by strong winds on the sea surface. This fuels the growth of tiny plankton, which feed marine ecosystems. California wind-driven upwelling sustains one of the richest ecosystems on the planet.

The development of large-scale California offshore wind energy projects has the potential to decrease atmospheric forcing, and this reduction of sea surface wind stress could have local and/or regional implications. The researchers will determine potential changes in California coastal upwelling from offshore wind project development over a variety of environmental conditions, device characteristics, and wind farm configurations. The study will provide valuable insight on potential environmental impacts.

Collaborators on the project are:

  • Sandia National Laboratories—atmospheric modeling and offshore wind technology support
  • University of California, Santa Cruz/NOAA—upwelling indices.


Dr. Chang, Integral’s project manager, has more than 20 years of experience managing large-scale contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements involving oceanographic research and development.

For more information, contact Dr. Chang at or Dr. Raghukumar at


Summary of a Numerical Modeling Framework to Evaluate Effects of Offshore Wind Farms on California Upwelling