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A Technique for Mapping the Distribution of Diffuse Solar Radiation over the Sky Hemisphere

L. J. Bruce McArthurDepartment of Geography, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 1K4

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John E. HayDepartment of Geography, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6T 1W5

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Abstract

A technique to map the distribution of diffuse solar radiation over the sky hemisphere is described. The method is based on an analysis of all-sky, visible photographs and concurrent actinometric measurements of diffuse solar radiance. The photographs were digitized and the resulting relative density values correlated with directly measured radiances. The resulting relationship was then used to determine the radiance for each density value, enabling a map of diffuse solar radiation for the celestial dome to be constructed.

The validity and utility of the approach are assessed by several tests. In the first test, the estimated radiances were integrated over the hemisphere and compared with measured diffuse irradiances for a horizontal surface. These were found to be within ±10% for the variety of sky conditions examined. A second test, under clear sky conditions, was performed to estimate the shortwave irradiance on several south-facing inclined surfaces. The results were found to be within ±5% of the measured irradiances. In a third test, comparisons with the normalized radiance distributions of Steven (1977) indicated good qualitative agreement.

Finally, problems and deficiencies in the technique are reviewed and possible means of surmounting them are discussed.

Abstract

A technique to map the distribution of diffuse solar radiation over the sky hemisphere is described. The method is based on an analysis of all-sky, visible photographs and concurrent actinometric measurements of diffuse solar radiance. The photographs were digitized and the resulting relative density values correlated with directly measured radiances. The resulting relationship was then used to determine the radiance for each density value, enabling a map of diffuse solar radiation for the celestial dome to be constructed.

The validity and utility of the approach are assessed by several tests. In the first test, the estimated radiances were integrated over the hemisphere and compared with measured diffuse irradiances for a horizontal surface. These were found to be within ±10% for the variety of sky conditions examined. A second test, under clear sky conditions, was performed to estimate the shortwave irradiance on several south-facing inclined surfaces. The results were found to be within ±5% of the measured irradiances. In a third test, comparisons with the normalized radiance distributions of Steven (1977) indicated good qualitative agreement.

Finally, problems and deficiencies in the technique are reviewed and possible means of surmounting them are discussed.

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