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Do modelled or satellite-based estimates of surface solar irradiance accurately describe its temporal variability?

Abstract : This study investigates the characteristic timescales of variability found in long-term time-series of daily means of estimates of surface solar irradiance (SSI). The study is performed at various levels to better understand the causes of variability in the SSI. First, the variability of the solar irradiance at the top of the atmosphere is scrutinized. Then, estimates of the SSI in cloud-free conditions as provided by the McClear model are dealt with, in order to reveal the influence of the clear atmosphere (aerosols, water vapour, etc.). Lastly, the role of clouds on variability is inferred by the analysis of in-situ measurements. A description of how the atmosphere affects SSI variability is thus obtained on a timescale basis. The analysis is also performed with estimates of the SSI provided by the satellite-derived HelioClim-3 database and by two numerical weather re-analyses: ERA-Interim and MERRA2. It is found that HelioClim-3 estimates render an accurate picture of the variability found in ground measurements, not only globally, but also with respect to individual characteristic timescales. On the contrary, the variability found in re-analyses correlates poorly with all scales of ground measurements variability.
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Marc Bengulescu, Philippe Blanc, Alexandre Boilley, Lucien Wald. Do modelled or satellite-based estimates of surface solar irradiance accurately describe its temporal variability?. Advances in Science and Research, Copernicus Publications, 2017, 14, pp.35 - 48. ⟨10.5194/asr-14-35-2017⟩. ⟨hal-01472866⟩

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