Peiyang Cheng

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Atmospheric Science

Committee Chair

John R. Mecikalski

Committee Member

Arastoo Pour Biazar

Committee Member

Richard T. McNider


Solar radiation, Satellite meteorology, GOES (Meteorological satellite)


Surface insolation data with wide coverage and high spatial resolution are anticipated by many applications. Although ground-based pyranometer stations can provide instantaneous solar radiation measurements at the surface, their limited density and non-uniform distribution make it difficult to for large-scale studies. One solution is to retrieve surface insolation from meteorological satellite observations (e.g., Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)) using physical models. Recently, the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) has been archiving one GOES-based insolation product and has made some refinements to improve the insolation estimates. In this study, a rigorous validation is conducted by comparing UAH satellite product to ground-based observations to better understand its performance and sources of uncertainty, and possible ways to improve it. Results have shown that the UAH product agrees well with surface measurements for non-snow cases (with normalized bias values within 6% of the mean and correlation coefficient values above 0.95 for hourly estimates) and is generally better under clear-sky than cloudy conditions. However, erroneous estimates may be produced during cold months, which is mainly due to snow contamination. Furthermore, the UAH insolation product is used to evaluate a downward shortwave radiation data set which is generated from the Rapid Refresh (RAP) model. It has shown that the RAP systematically overestimates surface insolation by about 3.4-6.2×10^6 J m-2 on an average day. This excessive energy is more than 20 times of the radiative forcing of CO2, which can be a serious problem if the model outputs are used as input to other studies.



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