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Journal Article

A high resolution satellite view of surface solar radiation over the climatically sensitive region of Eastern Mediterranean


Georgoulias,  A. K.
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Alexandri, G., Georgoulias, A. K., Meleti, C., Balis, D., Kourtidis, K. A., Sanchez-Lorenzo, A., et al. (2017). A high resolution satellite view of surface solar radiation over the climatically sensitive region of Eastern Mediterranean. Atmospheric Research, 188, 107-121. doi:10.1016/j.atmosres.2016.12.015.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-98E3-0
In this work, the spatiotemporal variability of surface solar radiation (SSR) is examined over the Eastern Mediterranean region for a 31-year period (1983–2013). The CM SAF SARAH (Satellite Application Facility on Climate Monitoring Solar surfAce RAdiation Heliosat) satellite-based product was found to be homogeneous (based on relative Standard Normal Homogeneity Tests — SNHTs, 95% confidence level) as compared to ground-based observations, and hence appropriate for climatological studies. Specifically, the dataset shows good agreement with monthly observations from five quality assured stations in the region with a mean bias of 7.1 W/m2 or 3.8% and a strong correlation. This high resolution (0.05° × 0.05°) product is capable of revealing various local features. Over land, the SSR levels are highly dependent on the topography, while over the sea, they exhibit a smooth latitudinal variability. SSR varies significantly over the region on a seasonal basis being three times higher in summer (309.6 ± 26.5 W/m2) than in winter (100.2 ± 31.4 W/m2). The CM SAF SARAH product was compared against three satellite-based and one reanalysis products. The satellite-based data from CERES (Cloud and the Earth's Radiant Energy System), GEWEX (Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment) and ISCCP (International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project) underestimate SSR while the reanalysis data from the ERA-Interim overestimate SSR compared to CM SAF SARAH. Using a radiative transfer model and a set of ancillary data, these biases are attributed to the atmospheric parameters that drive the transmission of solar radiation in the atmosphere, namely, clouds, aerosols and water vapor. It is shown that the bias between CERES and CM SAF SARAH SSR can be explained through the cloud fractional cover and aerosol optical depth biases between these datasets. The CM SAF SARAH SSR trend was found to be positive (brightening) and statistically significant at the 95% confidence level (0.2 ± 0.05 W/m2/year or 0.1 ± 0.02%/year) being almost the same over land and sea. The CM SAF SARAH SSR trends are closer to the ground-based ones than the CERES, GEWEX, ISCCP and ERA-Interim trends. The use of an aerosol climatology for the production of CM SAF SARAH, that neglects the trends of aerosol loads, leads to an underestimation of the SSR trends. It is suggested here, that the inclusion of changes of the aerosol load and composition within CM SAF SARAH would allow for a more accurate reproduction of the SSR trends.