Variability of aerosol and cloud optical properties and their effect on the transfer of solar irradiance in the atmosphere

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Νικητίδου, Ευτέρπη
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This thesis is focused on the aerosols and clouds optical properties and the effects that these parameters have on the solar radiation transfer in the atmosphere. The first chapter provides a brief description of the basic concepts of radiative transfer. The radiative transfer theory is described, along with various approximations, used to address specific atmospheric transfer problems. The atmospheric constituents, which are of interest of this thesis, aerosols and clouds, are described, in terms of their types and radiative properties and the main aspects of the scattering and absorption that they induce on the solar radiation, are provided. The second chapter provides a description of the networks, models and satellite instruments, whose data were used in this thesis, along with a description of the radiative transfer model, used for the simulations. Chapter three focuses on the aerosol optical properties in the ultraviolet and visible wavelength ranges, in the Mediterranean. Three datasets, from ground-based stations, global aerosol models and satellite instruments, are used to simulate the corresponding irradiances in the UV and VIS, in eight stations in the Mediterranean basin. Data from AERONET, AeroCom and MODIS are used and the differences on the modeled irradiances, which arise from the different aerosol optical properties provided by each dataset, are examined. The irradiance simulations are performed with the libRadtran radiative transfer model. The MODIS aerosol optical depth climatology shows better agreement with AERONET data. The highest difference in the monthly average values is equal to 0.09 at 550nm, while the differences between the AERONET and the AeroCom climatologies reach 0.25 and 0.15 in the UV and VIS wavelengths respectively. As a result, the AERONET modeled VIS and UV irradiances are closer to MODIS, with the absolute differences in average values reaching 6%, while absolute differences with AeroCom irradiances can reach up to 12%. The differences are higher in areas affected by desert dust aerosols. In chapter four, the aerosol direct effect on the UV solar irradiance, is examined, at a typical West European site. Measurements from a Brewer instrument, operating at the site, are used, along with model simulations, provided from libRadtran, to estimate the aerosol forcing efficiency in the 300-360 nm spectral region and in the UV-B region of 300-315nm. Instrument measurements and model calculations are subsequently used to derive the aerosol single scattering albedo at low UV-A and at UV-B wavelengths. In the 300-360 nm spectral region, the highest values were revealed at 30o (-6.9 ± 0.9 W/m2), while at 60o the RFE was almost 2.5 times lower (-2.7 ±0.1 W/m2). In the UV-B region (300-315nm), the RFE value at 60o and 30o was estimated to be equal to -0.069 ±0.005 W/m2 and -0.35 ±0.04 W/m2, respectively. The estimated monthly averages of the Brewer single scattering albedo at 320 nm are in very close agreement (within ±0.01) with measurements at 440nm from a collocated CIMEL sunphotometer. Chapter five focuses on the aerosol effect on the Direct Normal Irradiance, in the area of Europe. Data from the MODIS satellite instrument, AERONET network and model simulations with SBDART, are used to calculate the daily amount of Direct Normal Irradiance received in the European continent, with a spatial resolution of 1°x1°, for a 13-year period. The clear-sky aerosol radiative forcing is calculated and possible variations in the received Direct Normal Irradiance, during the 13-year studied period, are examined. The clear-sky aerosol radiative forcing on Direct Normal Irradiance is high in areas influenced by desert dust and intense anthropogenic activities, such as the Mediterranean basin and the Po Valley in Italy. In May, the attenuation from aerosols, over these areas, can reach values up to 35% and 35-45%, which corresponds to 4 and 4.5-6 kWh/m2 per day, respectively. The Direct Normal Irradiance received, seems to have increased during the recent period, due to the decreasing trend of aerosol load, over many parts of Europe. The largest increases are around 6 to 12%, which correspond to an amount of 0.5 to 1.25 more kWh/m2 received per day. Finally, chapter six focuses on the retrieval of solar irradiance on the ground, based on satellite-derived cloud data. The SEVIRI instrument, onboard the MSG satellites, is used to provide data regarding the cloud modification factor. These data are used, along with model simulations, performed with libRadtran, to derive the global solar irradiance incident on a horizontal surface, a surface with a tilted orientation and the direct normal irradiance. The study focuses on the area of Greece and the work is part of the Hellenic Network for Solar Energy, developed to support solar energy applications. The daily amount of solar energy, as well as the monthly and annual sums, are estimated, during an 11-year period and a monthly climatology is derived. Results are compared with measurements from various ground stations in Greece. Comparison shows a general good agreement between satellite and stations data, with the highest differences occurring in cases of broken cloud conditions or very thick clouds. Solar energy collected from surfaces under tilted orientations can provide 15-25 % higher amounts than horizontal surfaces. In Greece, the highest collected monthly solar energy values are found during summer months, in Southern Peloponnese, Crete and the Cyclades islands, and exceed 250 kWh/m2.
Aerosol optical properties, Solar irradiance