Using a Blackbody to Calculate Net Longwave Responsivity of Shortwave Solar Pyranometers to Correct for Their Thermal Offset Error During Outdoor Calibration Using the Component Sum Method

Ibrahim Reda, J. Hickey, C. Long, D. Myers, T. Stoffel, S. Wilcox, J. J. Michalsky, E. G. Dutton, D. Nelson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    28 Scopus Citations

    Abstract

    Thermopile pyranometers' thermal offset has been recognized since the pyranometer's inception. This offset is often overlooked or ignored because its magnitude is small compared to the overall solar signal at higher irradiance. With the demand of smaller uncertainty in measuring solar radiation, recent publications have described a renewed interest in this offset, its magnitude, and its effect on solar measurement networks for atmospheric science and solar energy applications. Recently, it was suggested that the magnitude of the pyranometer thermal offset is the same if the pyranometer is shaded or unshaded. Therefore, calibrating a pyranometer using a method known as the shade/unshade method would result in accurate responsivity calculations because the thermal offset error is canceled. When using the component sum method for the pyranometer calibration, the thermal offset error, which is typically negative when the sky is cloudless, does not cancel, resulting in an underestimated shortwave responsivity. Most operational pyranometers that are in use for solar radiation measuring networks are calibrated using the component sum method since it is possible to calibrate many pyranometers simultaneously. From this arises the importance of correcting the component sum method results to account for the thermal offset error. In this article a method of using a blackbody system to calculate the net longwave responsivity of pyranometers, which is largely responsible for the offset error, is described. This longwave responsivity is then used to correct the pyranometer's shortwave responsivity during the component sum method calibrations and thereby substantially reduces the effect of the offset error on the final pyranometer responsivity. Practical procedures for performing this calibration procedure along with its limitations and remaining uncertainties are given.

    Original languageAmerican English
    Pages (from-to)1531-1540
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology
    Volume22
    Issue number10
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2005

    NREL Publication Number

    • NREL/JA-560-36646

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