Influences of Cloud Microphysics on the Components of Solar Irradiance in the WRF-Solar Model: Article No. 39

Xin Zhou, Yangang Liu, Yunpeng Shan, Satoshi Endo, Yu Xie, Manajit Sengupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus Citations


An accurate forecast of Global Horizontal solar Irradiance (GHI) and Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) in cloudy conditions remains a major challenge in the solar energy industry. This study focuses on the impact of cloud microphysics on GHI and its partition into DNI and Diffuse Horizontal Irradiance (DHI) using the Weather Research and Forecasting model specifically designed for solar radiation applications (WRF-Solar) and seven microphysical schemes. Three stratocumulus (Sc) and five shallow cumulus (Cu) cases are simulated and evaluated against measurements at the US Department of Energy's Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility, Southern Great Plains (SGP) site. Results show that different microphysical schemes lead to spreads in simulated solar irradiance components up to 75% and 350% from their ensemble means in the Cu and Sc cases, respectively. The Cu cases have smaller microphysical sensitivity due to a limited cloud fraction and smaller domain-averaged cloud water mixing ratio compared to Sc cases. Cloud properties also influence the partition of GHI into DNI and DHI, and the model simulates better GHI than DNI and DHI due to a non-physical error compensation between DNI and DHI. The microphysical schemes that produce more accurate liquid water paths and effective radii of cloud droplets have a better overall performance.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages28
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5D00-88372


  • cloud microphysics
  • cloudy condition
  • Diffuse Horizontal Irradiance (DHI)
  • Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI)
  • Global Horizontal solar Irradiance (GHI)
  • solar irradiance
  • Southern Great Plains (SGP)
  • WRF-Solar model


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