Investigation of the 3-D actinic flux field in mountainous terrain.

11 November 2011


During three field campaigns spectral actinic flux was measured from 290–500 nm under clear sky conditions in Alpine terrain and the associated O3- and NO2-photolysis frequencies were calculated and the measurement products were then compared with 1-D- and 3-D-model calculations.

To do this 3-D-radiative transfer model was adapted for actinic flux calculations in mountainous terrain and the maps of the actinic flux field at the surface, calculated with the 3-D-radiative transfer model, are given. The differences between the 3-D- and 1-D-model results for selected days during the campaigns are shown, together with the ratios of the modeled actinic flux values to the measurements.

In many cases the 1-D-model overestimates actinic flux by more than the measurement uncertainty of 10%. The results of using a 3-D-model generally show significantly lower values, and can underestimate the actinic flux by up to 30%. This case study attempts to quantify the impact of snow cover in combination with topography on spectral actinic flux.

The impact of snow cover on the actinic flux was ~ 25% in narrow snow covered valleys, but for snow free areas there were no significant changes due snow cover in the surrounding area and it is found that the effect snow-cover at distances over 5 km from the point of interest was below 5%.

Overall the 3-D-model can calculate actinic flux to the same accuracy as the 1-D-model for single points, but gives a much more realistic view of the surface actinic flux field in mountains as topography and obstruction of the horizon are taken into account.


Wagner, J.E., Angelini, F., Blumthaler, M., Fitzka, M., Gobbi, G.P., Kift, R., Kreuter, A., Rieder, H.E., Simic, S., Webb, A. and Weihs, P., 2011. Investigation of the 3-D actinic flux field in mountainous terrain. Atmospheric research, 102(3), pp.300-310.

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