Hourly resolved cloud modification factors in the ultraviolet.

11 November 2008


Cloud impacts on the transfer of ultraviolet (UV) radiation through the atmosphere can be assessed by using a cloud modification factor (CMF). CMF, which is based on total global solar irradiation (SOL CMF), has proved to be a solid basis to derive CMFs for the UV radiation (UV CMF). This is an advantage, because total global irradiance, the basis for SOL CMF, is frequently measured and forecasted by numerical weather prediction systems and includes all relevant effects for radiation transmission, such as cloud optical depth, different cloud layers, multiple reflection, as well as the distinct difference as to whether the solar disc is obscured by clouds or not. In the UV range clouds decrease the irradiance to a lesser extent than in the visible and infrared spectral range.

Thus the relationship between CMFs for solar radiation and for UV-radiation is not straight forward, but will depend on whether, for example, the solar zenith angle (SZA) and wavelength band or action spectrum in the UV have been taken into consideration. Den Outer et al. provide a UV CMF algorithm on a daily basis, which accounts for these influences. It requires as input a daily SOL CMF and the SZA at noon. The calculation of SOL CMF uses the clear-sky algorithm of the European Solar Radiation Atlas to account for varying turbidity impacts.

The algorithm’s capability to derive hourly UV CMFs based on the SZA at the corresponding hour and its worldwide applicability is validated for erythemal UV using observational data retrieved from the databases of the COST-Action 726 on “Long-term changes and climatology of UV radiation over Europe” and the USDA UVB Monitoring Program.

The clear-sky part of the models has proved to be of good quality. Accumulated to daily doses it forms a tight cluster of points to the highest measured daily sums. All sky model performances for hourly resolution are shown to be comparable in accuracy with the well performing daily models of the COST-726 model intercomparison.


Staiger, H., Den Outer, P.N., Bais, A.F., Feister, U., Johnsen, B. and Vuilleumier, L., 2008. Hourly resolved cloud modification factors in the ultraviolet. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 8(9), pp.2493-2508.

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Category: Solar & Photovoltaics

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