Tower built on Sanborn Field to measure urban wind velocity

Researchers will look at ways to harness energy.
Sunday, July 8, 2007 | 2:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:44 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 12, 2008

A new weather tower has gone up on Sanborn Field to measure the force and direction of the wind in an urban setting, with an eye toward gauging the potential for wind power.

Ali Koleiny, an MU graduate student in soil and atmospheric sciences, said the project is designed to see how wind speed and direction are affected by buildings and other structures in an urban environment.

“It may be part of a big plan to see if Missouri can capitalize on wind energy and help the environment,” he said.

The structure, along with an identical one at MU’s South Farm, was built as part of a grant acquired by MU associate professors Tony Lupo and Peter Motavalli of the department of soil, environmental and atmospheric sciences and their partners at Lincoln University.

MU’s $60,000 portion of the grant focuses on meteorology. Lupo said the tower will be used to obtain wind measurements as they relate to low-level atmospheric stability and evaporation rates. In the near future, sensors will be set up on the towers to measure temperature and moisture.

Sanborn Field, a historic agricultural research field at College Avenue and Rollins Street, seemed like the most logical site to set up the wind tower because of the long history of weather records obtained from the site. A variety of weather data from the site, which is updated every five minutes, can be found on the Web at

The main weather tower at Sanborn Field only measures winds up to 3 meters above the ground. Anemometers and wind vanes on the new tower can collect data at increments of 1, 2, 3 and 10 meters above the ground.

Four graduate students helped set up the wind tower.

“This is just the kind of thing we want to show our students,” Lupo said. “This gives them training on setup and maintenance of wind towers as well as research that undergraduate students can use to read and interpret weather data in the fall.”

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