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J. J. Michalsky and B. A. LeBaron

Abstract

Sunphotometry is a common technique for characterizing aerosol properties. Photometers used for these measurements have a series of narrow-band filters that are chosen to avoid molecular absorption features, except for the very broad Chappuis ozone band centered near 600 nm. This note reports on a set of moderate resolution spectra that were used to derive optical depth every 10 nm throughout the visible and near infrared. The usefulness of this type of continuous optical depth spectrum for selecting sunphotometer filters and the importance of often-ignored, weak molecular bands near 600 nm are discussed.

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Joseph J. Michalsky, Mark Kutchenreiter, and Charles N. Long

Abstract

Ventilators are used to keep the domes of pyranometers clean and dry, but they affect the nighttime offset as well. This paper examines different ventilation strategies. For the several commercial single-black-detector pyranometers with ventilators examined here, high-flow-rate [50 cubic feet per minute (CFM) and higher] 12-VDC (where VDC refers to voltage direct current) fans lower the offsets, lower the scatter, and improve the predictability of the offsets during the night compared with lower-flow-rate (35 CFM) 120-VAC (where VAC refers to voltage alternating current) fans operated in the same ventilator housings. Black-and-white pyranometers sometimes show improvement with DC ventilation, but in some cases DC ventilation makes the offsets slightly worse. Since the offsets for these black-and-white pyranometers are always small, usually no more than 1 W m−2, whether AC or DC ventilated, changing their ventilation to higher CFM DC ventilation is not imperative. Future work should include all major manufacturers of pyranometers and unventilated and ventilated pyranometers. An important outcome of future research will be to clarify under what circumstances nighttime data can be used to predict daytime offsets.

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J. Michalsky, E. Dutton, M. Rubes, D. Nelson, T. Stoffel, M. Wesley, M. Splitt, and J. DeLuisi

Abstract

Although most measurements of total downwelling shortwave irradiance are made with pyranometers, the World Climate Research Program’s Baseline Surface Radiation Network has recommended the use of the summation of shortwave components in which the direct normal irradiance is measured and multiplied by the cosine of the solar zenith angle and then added to the diffuse horizontal irradiance measured by a pyranometer that is shaded from direct solar radiation by a disk. The nonideal angular response of most pyranometers limits their accuracy to about 3%, or 20–30 W m−2, for instantaneous clear-sky measurements. An intensive study of 21 separate measurements of total horizontal irradiance was conducted during extreme winter conditions of low sun and cold temperatures over 12 days at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory. The experiment showed that the component sum methodology could lower the uncertainty by a factor of 2 or 3. A clear demonstration of this improvement was realized in a separate experiment conducted at the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Southern Great Plains Cloud and Radiation Testbed site during April 1996. Four independent measurements of downwelling shortwave irradiance using the component sum technique showed typical differences at solar noon of about 10 W m−2. The mean of these summed measurements at solar noon was lower than the mean of the most-well-calibrated pyranometer measurements, acquired simultaneously, by about 30 W m−2, which is consistent with the typical angular response of many pyranometers.

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John A. Augustine, Gary B. Hodges, Christopher R. Cornwall, Joseph J. Michalsky, and Carlos I. Medina

Abstract

The Surface Radiation budget (SURFRAD) network was developed for the United States in the middle 1990s in response to a growing need for more sophisticated in situ surface radiation measurements to support satellite system validation; numerical model verification; and modern climate, weather, and hydrology research applications. Operational data collection began in 1995 with four stations; two stations were added in 1998. Since its formal introduction to the research community in 2000, several additions and improvements have been made to the network’s products and infrastructure. To better represent the climate types of the United States, a seventh SURFRAD station was installed near Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in June 2003. In 2001, the instrument used for the diffuse solar measurement was replaced with a type of pyranometer that does not have a bias associated with infrared radiative cooling of its receiving surface. Subsequently, biased diffuse solar data from 1996 to 2001 were corrected using a generally accepted method. Other improvements include the implementation of a clear-sky diagnostic algorithm and associated products, better continuity in the ultraviolet-B (UVB) data record, a reduced potential for error in the downwelling infrared measurements, and development of an aerosol optical depth algorithm. Of these, only the aerosol optical depth product has yet to be finalized. All SURFRAD stations are members of the international Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN). Data are submitted regularly in monthly segments to the BSRN archive in Zurich, Switzerland. Through this affiliation, the SURFRAD network became an official part of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) in April 2004.

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I. Reda, J. Hickey, C. Long, D. Myers, T. Stoffel, S. Wilcox, J. J. Michalsky, E. G. Dutton, and D. Nelson

Abstract

Thermopile pyranometers’ thermal offset has been recognized since the pyranometer’s inception. This offset is often overlooked or ignored because its magnitude is small compared to the overall solar signal at higher irradiance. With the demand of smaller uncertainty in measuring solar radiation, recent publications have described a renewed interest in this offset, its magnitude, and its effect on solar measurement networks for atmospheric science and solar energy applications. Recently, it was suggested that the magnitude of the pyranometer thermal offset is the same if the pyranometer is shaded or unshaded. Therefore, calibrating a pyranometer using a method known as the shade/unshade method would result in accurate responsivity calculations because the thermal offset error is canceled. When using the component sum method for the pyranometer calibration, the thermal offset error, which is typically negative when the sky is cloudless, does not cancel, resulting in an underestimated shortwave responsivity. Most operational pyranometers that are in use for solar radiation measuring networks are calibrated using the component sum method since it is possible to calibrate many pyranometers simultaneously. From this arises the importance of correcting the component sum method results to account for the thermal offset error.

In this article a method of using a blackbody system to calculate the net longwave responsivity of pyranometers, which is largely responsible for the offset error, is described. This longwave responsivity is then used to correct the pyranometer’s shortwave responsivity during the component sum method calibrations and thereby substantially reduces the effect of the offset error on the final pyranometer responsivity. Practical procedures for performing this calibration procedure along with its limitations and remaining uncertainties are given.

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Ellsworth G. Dutton, Joseph J. Michalsky, Thomas Stoffel, Bruce W. Forgan, John Hickey, Donald W. Nelson, Timothy L. Alberta, and Ibrahim Reda

Abstract

Diffuse-sky solar irradiance is an important quantity for radiation budget research, particularly as it relates to climate. Diffuse irradiance is one component of the total downwelling solar irradiance and contains information on the amount of downward-scattered, as opposed to directly transmitted, solar radiation. Additionally, the diffuse component is often required when calibrating total irradiance radiometers. A variety of pyranometers are commonly used to measure solar diffuse irradiance. An examination of some instruments for measuring diffuse irradiance using solar tracking shade disks is presented, along with an evaluation of the achieved accuracy. A data correction procedure that is intended to account for the offset caused by thermal IR exchange between the detector and filter domes in certain common diffuse pyranometers is developed and validated. The correction factor is derived from outputs of a collocated pyrgeometer that measures atmospheric infrared irradiance.

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