An Improved Algorithm for Estimating Surface Shortwave Radiation: Preliminary Evaluation With MODIS Products: Article No. 4504109

Jun Li, Wenjun Tang, Kun Yang, Yu Xie, Christian Gueymard, Jun Qin, Manajit Sengupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus Citations


Cloud parameters, as key inputs in radiative transfer algorithms, have a critical impact on surface shortwave radiation (SSR) computation. By introducing a parameterization of cloud transmittance and reflectance, based on radiative transfer simulations, this study improves the accuracy of an existing physically based model which severely underestimates SSR under thick cloud conditions. The cloud parameterization adopts the single-layer cloud model and simulates cloud transmittances and reflectances by varying cloud optical thickness, cloud particle size, and solar zenith angle. The revised model is applied to estimate instantaneous SSR using Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) atmospheric and land products. The retrieved SSR is evaluated against observation data from 41 Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN) stations and is also compared with the MODIS official SSR product. The root mean square error (RMSE) of the estimated instantaneous radiation is approximately 52 and 98 W m-2 under clear-sky and all-sky conditions, respectively. The accuracy of the improved parameterization is higher than that of the original model, and there is no obvious underestimation of SSR in the case of high cloud optical thickness. Therefore, the new algorithm improves the accuracy of SSR estimates in the presence of thick clouds. Retrievals with the improved model also achieve higher accuracy than the MODIS official SSR product (MCD18A1). Finally, the reliable performance of the scheme at most BSRN stations illustrates that the improved model can be used to map SSR on a global scale.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5D00-78456


  • algorithm
  • cloud parameterization
  • GHI
  • moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer
  • solar radiation
  • surface short-wave radiation


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