Simulations, from mesoscale numerical models, and analyses of in-situ and remote sensing data from offshore wind farms in Denmark, are used to examine both horizontal and vertical gradients of wind speeds in the coastal zone. Results suggest that the distance from the coastline over which wind speed vertical profiles are not at equitibrium with the sea surface (which defines the coastal zone) extends to 20 km and possibly 70 km from the coast. Using this operational definition of the coastal zone, these results thus imply the typical-width of the coastal zone in northern Europe is between 20 and 70 km. The width of the coastal zone, and the winds vertical (shear) and horizontal gradients within the coastal zone, depend on atmospheric stability. Although vertical wind speed profiles above 50 m are likely responding to additional factors such as the height of the boundary-layer, using a stability correction improves predictions of wind speed compared with the logarithmic profile. Modelling indicates that within the coastal zone, wind speeds at typical turbine hub-heights can change by 2 m/s over the horizontal extent of a large wind farm, depending on stability. However, if the fetch is sufficiently long (or the windfarm is further from the coast) both horizontal and vertical wind speed gradients over the area of the wind farm appear to be small and negligible.
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