A radiative transfer algorithm is combined with digital elevation and satellite reflectance data to model spatial variability in net solar radiation at fine spatial resolution. The method is applied to the tall‐grass prairie of the 16 × 16 km2 FIFE site (First ISLSCP Field Experiment) of the International Satellite Land Surface Climatology Project. Spectral reflectances as measured by the Landsat thematic mapper (TM) are corrected for atmospheric and topographic effects using field measurements and accurate 30‐m digital elevation data in a detailed model of atmosphere‐surface interaction. The spectral reflectances are then integrated to produce estimates of surface albedo in the range 0.3–3.0 μm. This map of albedo is used in an atmospheric and topographic radiative transfer model to produce a map of net solar radiation. A map of apparent net solar radiation is also derived using only the TM reflectance data, uncorrected for topography, and the average field‐measured downwelling solar irradiance. Comparison with field measurements at 10 sites on the prairie shows that the topographically derived radiation map accurately captures the spatial variability in net solar radiation, but the apparent map does not. The regional means for the entire site, as estimated from field measurements by themselves, from the topographic model, and from the apparent net solar radiation map are nearly equal, although the variance is an order of magnitude larger for the topographic model.
Water Resources Research – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 1992
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