How is solar radiation measured?

In well-established locations, this data has been collected for more than forty years. In energy balance studies, several pyranometers are combined to measure both incoming and reflected solar radiation.

How is solar radiation measured?

In well-established locations, this data has been collected for more than forty years. In energy balance studies, several pyranometers are combined to measure both incoming and reflected solar radiation. This can be combined with separate measurements of net long-wave radiation and other fluxes. Scientists measure the amount of sunlight that falls in specific locations at different times of the year.

They then estimate the amount of sunlight falling in regions of the same latitude with similar climates. Solar energy measurements are usually expressed as total radiation on a horizontal surface or as total radiation on a surface following the sun. For example, the US space agency, NASA, launched its Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite with solar irradiation monitors. A large part of this is visible sunlight, but the solar spectrum extends to both UV and near-infrared rays.

The fraction of the energy flow emitted by the sun and intercepted by the earth is characterized by the solar constant. Non-zero average global net radiation in the upper part of the atmosphere is indicative of the Earth's thermal imbalance imposed by climate forcing. Depending on their design, the instruments mentioned above measure the radiation of the beam that comes from the sun and a small part of the sky around the sun. The spatial TSI record includes measurements from more than ten radiometers and covers three solar cycles.

The amount of light that is scattered depends on the amount of particles in the atmosphere, the size of the particles, and the total air mass through which the radiation comes. Learn more about how solar energy works and the solar office's concentrated photovoltaic and solar thermal programs. Long-wave radiation, with a wavelength of 3 μm or more, originates from sources at temperatures close to ambient: the atmosphere, the Earth's surface, light collectors, and other bodies. Some variations in insolation are not due to solar changes, but rather to the Earth moving between its perihelion and aphelion, or to changes in the latitudinal distribution of radiation.

The distribution of solar radiation in the upper part of the atmosphere is determined by the sphericity and orbital parameters of the Earth. Cities like Denver, Colorado (close to 40° latitude) receive almost three times more solar energy in June than in December. The amount of solar radiation at the Earth's surface can be measured instrumentally, and accurate measurements are important to provide background solar data for solar energy conversion applications. The solar radiation data collected through the instrumental methods mentioned above provide the basis for the development of any solar project.

The solar resource in the United States is extensive for photovoltaic (PV) systems because they use direct and scattered sunlight. Solar radiation that reaches the Earth's surface without diffusing is called direct-beam solar radiation.