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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 18 Dec 2017

Research article | 18 Dec 2017

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Ocean Science (OS).

Estimating downwelling solar irradiance at the surface of the tropical Atlantic Ocean: A comparison of PIRATA measurements against several re-analyses and satellite-derived data sets

Mélodie Trolliet1, Jakub P. Walawender2, Bernard Bourlès3, Alexandre Boilley4, Jörg Trentmann2, Philippe Blanc1, Mireille Lefèvre1, and Lucien Wald1 Mélodie Trolliet et al.
  • 1MINES ParisTech, PSL Research Univer sity, O.I.E. – Center for Observation, Impacts, Energy, Sophia Antipolis, France
  • 2Deutscher Wetterdienst, Offenbach, Germany
  • 3IRD/LEGOS, Brest, France
  • 4Transvalor, Mougins, France

Abstract. This paper assesses the merits and drawbacks of several data sets of the solar downwelling radiation received at the surface of the tropical Atlantic Ocean where the field of solar radiation is hardly known. The data sets are compared to qualified measurements of hourly irradiance made at five buoys of the PIRATA network for the period 2012–2013. The data sets comprise the re-analyses MERRA 2 and ERA 5 and three satellite-derived data sets: HelioClim 3v5, SARAH 2 and CAMS Radiation Service v2. The re-analyses often report cloud-free conditions while actual conditions are cloudy and reciprocally, actual cloudless conditions as cloudy. The medium and high level clouds exhibit more bias than the low level clouds. The re-analyses poorly correlate with the optical state of the atmosphere derived from the measurements. The actual irradiance field is spatially distorted by re-analyses, especially for MERRA 2. Performances are similar between the three satellite-derived data sets. They correlate well with the optical state of the atmosphere and reproduce well the dynamics of the solar irradiance. The three data sets exhibit overestimation with the lowest biases reached by CAMS Radiation Service v2. The bias of HelioClim 3v5 is fairly similar from one location to the other which means that the actual spatial gradients are well reproduced.

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