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Evaluation of Various Methods for Estimating Global Solar Radiation in the Southeastern United States

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  • 1 Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi
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Abstract

Global solar radiation Rg is an important input for crop models to simulate crop responses. Because the scarcity of long and continuous records of Rg is a serious limitation in many countries, Rg is estimated using models. For crop-model application, empirical Rg models that use commonly measured meteorological variables, such as temperature and precipitation, are generally preferred. Although a large number of models of this kind exist, few have been evaluated for conditions in the United States. This study evaluated the performances of 16 empirical, temperature- and/or precipitation-based Rg models for the southeastern United States. By taking into account spatial distribution and data availability, 30 locations in the region were selected and their daily weather data spanning eight years obtained. One-half of the data was used for calibrating the models, and the other half was used for evaluation. For each model, location-specific parameter values were estimated through regressions. Models were evaluated for each location using the root-mean-square error and the modeling efficiency as goodness-of-fit measures. Among the models that use temperature or precipitation as the input variable, the Mavromatis model showed the best performance. The piecewise linear regression–based Wu et al. model (WP) performed best not only among the models that use both temperature and precipitation but also among the 16 models evaluated, mainly because it has separate relationships for low and high radiation levels. The modeling efficiency of WP was from ~5% to more than 100% greater than those of the other models, depending on models and locations.

Corresponding author address: Prem Woli, Dept. of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Mississippi State University, 130 Creelman St., Mississippi State, MS 39762. E-mail: prem.woli@msstate.edu

Abstract

Global solar radiation Rg is an important input for crop models to simulate crop responses. Because the scarcity of long and continuous records of Rg is a serious limitation in many countries, Rg is estimated using models. For crop-model application, empirical Rg models that use commonly measured meteorological variables, such as temperature and precipitation, are generally preferred. Although a large number of models of this kind exist, few have been evaluated for conditions in the United States. This study evaluated the performances of 16 empirical, temperature- and/or precipitation-based Rg models for the southeastern United States. By taking into account spatial distribution and data availability, 30 locations in the region were selected and their daily weather data spanning eight years obtained. One-half of the data was used for calibrating the models, and the other half was used for evaluation. For each model, location-specific parameter values were estimated through regressions. Models were evaluated for each location using the root-mean-square error and the modeling efficiency as goodness-of-fit measures. Among the models that use temperature or precipitation as the input variable, the Mavromatis model showed the best performance. The piecewise linear regression–based Wu et al. model (WP) performed best not only among the models that use both temperature and precipitation but also among the 16 models evaluated, mainly because it has separate relationships for low and high radiation levels. The modeling efficiency of WP was from ~5% to more than 100% greater than those of the other models, depending on models and locations.

Corresponding author address: Prem Woli, Dept. of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Mississippi State University, 130 Creelman St., Mississippi State, MS 39762. E-mail: prem.woli@msstate.edu
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