Articles | Volume 10, issue 6
Research article
27 Jun 2017
Research article |  | 27 Jun 2017

Comparison of hourly surface downwelling solar radiation estimated from MSG–SEVIRI and forecast by the RAMS model with pyranometers over Italy

Stefano Federico, Rosa Claudia Torcasio, Paolo Sanò, Daniele Casella, Monica Campanelli, Jan Fokke Meirink, Ping Wang, Stefania Vergari, Henri Diémoz, and Stefano Dietrich

Abstract. In this paper, we evaluate the performance of two global horizontal solar irradiance (GHI) estimates, one derived from Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) and another from the 1-day forecast of the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) mesoscale model. The horizontal resolution of the MSG-GHI is 3 × 5 km2 over Italy, which is the focus area of this study. For this paper, RAMS has the horizontal resolution of 4 km.

The performances of the MSG-GHI estimate and RAMS-GHI 1-day forecast are evaluated for 1 year (1 June 2013–31 May 2014) against data of 12 ground-based pyranometers over Italy spanning a range of climatic conditions, i.e. from maritime Mediterranean to Alpine climate.

Statistics for hourly GHI and daily integrated GHI are presented for the four seasons and the whole year for all the measurement sites. Different sky conditions are considered in the analysis

Results for hourly data show an evident dependence on the sky conditions, with the root mean square error (RMSE) increasing from clear to cloudy conditions. The RMSE is substantially higher for Alpine stations in all the seasons, mainly because of the increase of the cloud coverage for these stations, which is not well represented at the satellite and model resolutions.

Considering the yearly statistics computed from hourly data for the RAMS model, the RMSE ranges from 152 W m−2 (31 %) obtained for Cozzo Spadaro, a maritime station, to 287 W m−2 (82 %) for Aosta, an Alpine site. Considering the yearly statistics computed from hourly data for MSG-GHI, the minimum RMSE is for Cozzo Spadaro (71 W m−2, 14 %), while the maximum is for Aosta (181 W m−2, 51 %). The mean bias error (MBE) shows the tendency of RAMS to over-forecast the GHI, while no specific behaviour is found for MSG-GHI.

Results for daily integrated GHI show a lower RMSE compared to hourly GHI evaluation for both RAMS-GHI 1-day forecast and MSG-GHI estimate. Considering the yearly evaluation, the RMSE of daily integrated GHI is at least 9 % lower (in percentage units, from 31 to 22 % for RAMS in Cozzo Spadaro) than the RMSE computed for hourly data for each station. A partial compensation of underestimation and overestimation of the GHI contributes to the RMSE reduction. Furthermore, a post-processing technique, namely model output statistics (MOS), is applied to improve the GHI forecast at hourly and daily temporal scales. The application of MOS shows an improvement of RAMS-GHI forecast, which depends on the site considered, while the impact of MOS on MSG-GHI RMSE is small.

Short summary
In this paper we evaluate the performance of two estimates of the global horizontal irradiance (GHI), one derived from the Meteosat Second Generation and one from a meteorological model (Regional Atmospheric Modeling System) forecast. The focus area is Italy, and the performance is evaluated for 12 pyranometers spanning a range of climate conditions, from Mediterranean maritime to Alpine.