Sound propagation outdoors can be strongly affected by ground topography. The existence of hills and valleys between a source and receiver can lead to the shielding or focusing of sound waves. Such effects can result in significant variations in received sound levels. In addition, wind speed and air temperature gradients in the atmospheric boundary layer also play an important role. All of the foregoing factors can become especially important for the case of wind turbines located on a ridge overlooking a valley. Ridges are often selected for wind turbines in order to increase their energy capture potential through the wind speed-up effects often experienced in such locations. In this paper, a hybrid calculation method is presented to model such a case, relying on an analytical solution for sound diffraction around an impedance cylinder and the conformal mapping (CM) Green's function parabolic equation (GFPE) technique. The various aspects of the model have been successfully validated against alternative prediction methods. Example calculations with this hybrid analytical-CM-GFPE model show the complex sound pressure level distribution across the valley and the effect of valley ground type. The proposed method has the potential to include the effect of refraction through the inclusion of complex wind and temperature fields, although this aspect has been highly simplified in the current simulations.This article is part of the themed issue 'Wind energy in complex terrains'.
Keywords: outdoor sound propagation; parabolic equation method; undulating terrain; wind turbine.
© 2017 The Author(s).