24 Mar Clouds and aerosols
Alternative models and methodologies for calculating surface radiation have of course existed for several years. While there is considerable heterogeneity in these models, most share a similar limitation especially linked with the accuracy of accounting for the effect of cloud cover and atmospheric aerosols on large area-nowcasting estimates of solar radiation. This is a crucial limitation as the complex vertical profile and high spatial and temporal variability of clouds and aerosol properties in the atmosphere impacts on the nature of the solar radiation reaching the ground.
This limitation was obvious to the NOA group and as such the team were keen to develop a reliable way of incorporating these effects into their models. Fortunately, members of the team are involved in Earth Observation and satellite remote sensing science and the development of cloud retrieval and global aerosol models, and NOA itself has a long time tradition in solar radiation monitoring, starting in the beginning of the 20th century and also is an important node in both European lidar (EARLINET) and NASA sunphotometer (AERONET) networks. As such, the team possessed the necessary expertise to be able to develop the most advanced and reliable system for modeling solar radiation at the Earth’s surface.