Articles | Volume 13
10 Jun 2016
 | 10 Jun 2016

Validation of three satellite-derived databases of surface solar radiation using measurements performed at 42 stations in Brazil

Claire Thomas, Etienne Wey, Philippe Blanc, and Lucien Wald

Abstract. The SoDa website ( is populated with numerous solar-related Web services. Among them, three satellite-derived irradiation databases can be manually or automatically accessed to retrieve radiation values within the geographical coverage of the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) satellite: the two most advanced versions of the HelioClim-3 database (versions 4 and 5, respectively HC3v4 and HC3v5), and the CAMS radiation service. So far, these databases have been validated against measurements of several stations in Europe and North Africa only. As the quality of such databases depends on the geographical regions and the climates, this paper extends this validation campaign and proposes an extensive comparison on Brazil and global irradiation received on a horizontal surface. Eleven stations from the Brazilian Institute of Space Research (INPE) network offer 1 min observations, and thirty-one stations from the Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia (INMET) network offer hourly observations. The satellite-derived estimates have been compared to the corresponding observations on hourly, daily and monthly basis. The bias relative to the mean of the measurements for HC3v5 is mostly comprised between 1 and 3 %, and that for HC3v4 between 2 and 5 %. These are very satisfactory results and they demonstrate that HC3v5, and to a lesser extent HC3v4, may be used in studies of long-term changes in SSI in Brazil. The situation is not so good with CAMS radiation service for which the relative bias is mostly comprised between 5 and 10 %. For hourly irradiation, the relative RMSE ranges from 15 to 33 %. The correlation coefficient is very large for all stations and the three databases, with an average of 0.96. The three databases reproduce well the hour from hour changes in SSI. The errors show a tendency to increase with the viewing angle of the MSG satellite. They are greater in tropical areas where the relative humidity in the atmosphere is important. It is concluded that except for the overestimation by CAMS radiation service, the three databases are suitable for studies of the solar resources in Brazil.

Short summary
Several satellite-derived solar surface irradiance databases provide long-term and homogeneously distributed information on the solar potential at ground level. This paper presents the validation results of three of these databases: HelioClim-3 (versions 4 and 5) and the CAMS radiation service, versus the measurements of 42 stations in Brazil. Despite a slight overestimation of the CAMS radiation service, the three databases are suitable for studies of the solar resources in Brazil.