Monthly solar radiation in the tropical Atlantic Ocean: Can its spatial variations be captured by the current configuration of the PIRATA moorings?

Type Article
Date 2018
Language English
Author(s) Trolliet Mélodie1, Wald Lucien1
Affiliation(s) 1 : MINES ParisTech, PSL Research University, O.I.E. – Center for Observation, Impacts, Energy, Sophia Antipolis, France
Source Advances in Science and Research (1992-0636) (Copernicus GmbH), 2018 , Vol. 15 , P. 127-136
DOI 10.5194/asr-15-127-2018

The present work aims at contributing to the proper design of networks of measuring moorings with regard to the downwelling solar irradiance at surface (DSIS). Considering the yearly profiles of the monthly DSIS, this article studies whether the 17 moorings within the existing PIRATA network are well geographically distributed so that they capture the spatial variations of the yearly profiles in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. A clustering technique is performed onto the HelioClim-3v5 satellite-derived gridded dataset of DSIS spanning 12 years, thus yielding 17 zones of similar yearly profiles. It was found that the mean yearly profiles of several zones are similar to the measured ones at the three moorings having enough measurements to perform the comparison. Zones have clear connections with the climatology of the region and circulation regimes. The geographical distribution of the moorings has been analysed with regard to the zoning. In the northern region of the tropical basin, each zone contains at least one PIRATA mooring. Hence, the configuration of the PIRATA network is appropriate to reflect the spatial variations of the yearly profiles in this northern part. In the southern basin, the coverage is less complete; several zones do not contain any PIRATA mooring. Thus, the network does not capture the spatial variations of the yearly profiles and this may induce misinterpretation of the PIRATA measurements at synoptic scales. It was also found that the computation of latitudinal or longitudinal averages of irradiance may be wrong if based solely on measurements from moorings without taking into account the spatial representativeness of a mooring.

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