Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1064
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-1064
23 Apr 2024
 | 23 Apr 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

How to observe the small-scale spatial distribution of surface solar irradiance, and how is it influenced by cumulus clouds?

Zili He, Quentin Libois, Najda Villefranque, Hartwig Deneke, Jonas Witthuhn, and Fleur Couvreux

Abstract. The amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth surface (SSI) is critical for a variety of applications, ranging from surface-atmosphere interactions to solar energy. SSI is characterized by a large spatiotemporal variability, in particular in the presence of broken clouds. This results in complex spatial patterns of shadows and sunlight directly related to clouds' geometry and physical properties. Although key in many respects, the instantaneous spatial distribution of SSI remains largely unexplored. Here, we use unique observations from a dense network of pyranometers deployed during the HOPE field campaign to investigate the SSI spatial distribution. For cumulus scenes, bimodal distributions are found, with one mode corresponding to cloud shadows and the other to sunlit areas with enhanced SSI exceeding clear-sky values. Combining large-eddy simulations of cumulus clouds with Monte Carlo ray tracing, we demonstrate the capability of advanced numerical tools to reproduce the observed distributions and quantify the impact of cloud geometrical and physical properties on both modes. In particular, cloud cover strongly modulates their amplitudes, in addition to their location and width, which are also sensitive to cloud height, geometrical depth, and liquid water content. Combining observations and simulations, we propose sampling strategies to estimate the instantaneous spatial distribution of SSI with a limited number of sensors, highlighting that 10 pyranometers integrated over 10 min can capture most details of the full distribution. Such a strategy could be used for future campaigns to further investigate SSI distributions and their impact on land-atmosphere exchanges or PV farm management.

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Zili He, Quentin Libois, Najda Villefranque, Hartwig Deneke, Jonas Witthuhn, and Fleur Couvreux

Status: open (until 04 Jun 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
Zili He, Quentin Libois, Najda Villefranque, Hartwig Deneke, Jonas Witthuhn, and Fleur Couvreux

Data sets

How to observe the small-scale spatial distribution of surface solar irradiance, and how is it influenced by cumulus clouds? Zili He, Quentin Libois, Najda Villefranque, Hartwig Deneke, Jonas Witthuhn, and Fleur Couvreux https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10948326

samd_dataset SAMD, Registry of Research Data Repositories https://doi.org/10.17616/R3D944

HD(CP)2 short term observations, sw broadband downwelling radiation (surface) data of Pyranometer network (no. 00), HOPE campaign by TROPOS, data version 00 Madhavan Bomidi https://www.cen.uni-hamburg.de/icdc/data/atmosphere/samd-st-datasets/samd-st-hope.html

Model code and software

htrdr version 0.8.1 meso-star https://www.meso-star.com/projects/htrdr/htrdr.html

Meso-NH, version 5.4.3 LAERO, CNRM http://mesonh.aero.obs-mip.fr/mesonh/dir_open/dir_MESONH/MNH-V5-4-3.tar.gz

Zili He, Quentin Libois, Najda Villefranque, Hartwig Deneke, Jonas Witthuhn, and Fleur Couvreux

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Short summary
This study uses observations and simulations to analyze how cumulus clouds affect spacial solar radiation variability on the ground. Results show that the simulations reproduce the observations well and improve understanding of cloud impacts on radiation. The research also indicates that a few strategically placed sensors, capitalizing on measurement timing, can effectively measure these variations, aiding in the development of detailed weather prediction models.