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Keywords:

  • global scale shortwave radiative fluxes;
  • satellite shortwave radiative fluxes;
  • surface radiative fluxes

[1] During the last two decades, significant progress has been made in assessing the Earth Radiation Balance from satellite observations. Yet, satellite based estimates differ from each other and from those provided by numerical models. Major issues are related to quality of satellite observations, such as the frequent changes in satellite observing systems, degradation of sensors, restricted spectral intervals and viewing geometry of sensors, and changes in the quality of atmospheric inputs that drive the inference schemes. To reduce differences among the satellite based estimates requires, among others, updates to inference schemes so that most recent auxiliary information can be fully utilized. This paper reports on improvements introduced to a methodology developed at the University of Maryland to estimate shortwave (SW) radiative fluxes within the atmosphere system from satellite observations, the implementation of the approach with newly available auxiliary information, evaluation of the downwelling SW flux against ground observations, and comparison with independent satellite methods and numerical models. Specifically, introduced are: new Narrow to Broadband (N/B) transformations and new Angular Distribution Models (ADM) for clear and cloudy sky that incorporate most recent land use classifications; improved aerosol treatment; separation of clouds by phase; improved sun-earth geometry; and implementation at 0.5° spatial resolution at 3-hourly intervals integrated to daily and monthly time scales. When compared to an earlier version of the model as implemented at 2.5° at global scale and against observations from the globally distributed Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN) stations for a period of six years (at monthly time scale), the bias was reduced from 8.6 (4.6%) to −0.5 (0.3%) W/m2, the standard deviation from 16.6 (8.9%) to 14.5 (7.8%) W/m2while the correlation remained high at 0.98 in both cases. Evaluation was also done over oceanic sites as available from the Pilot Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic (PIRATA) moorings and from the Tropical Atmosphere Ocean/Triangle Trans-Ocean Buoy Network (TAO/TRITON) moorings in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Overall, results over oceans were not as good as over land for all the satellite retrievals compared in this study.