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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The mesoscale variability of insolation over the Lower Fraser Valley resolved by geostationary satellite data Benchimol, Nicole


Assessments of the mesoscale variability of the insolation over the lower Fraser Valley have been hampered by the inadequate spatial resolution of the available pyranometric data. At present, the establishment of a dense ground-based observing network is economically infeasible. The adaptation of geostationary satellite data for estimating insolation is an attractive alternative. The ability of a simple physically-based model (Gautier et al., 1980) to resolve the hourly mesoscale insolation variability is evaluated. The satellite-based estimates are shown to be more coherent than the observed insolation. Discrepancies are attributed to the spatial averaging inherent in the satellite methodology. The estimates are found to be insensitive to spatial averaging down to a 3 x 3 pixel (about 13 km₂ ) scale. The effects of spatial averaging are believed to occur at smaller spatial scales. The satellite-based estimates generally display a good correspondence with the observed insolation. Maps of the mean hourly estimated insolation are obtained with a high degree of accuracy due to small systematic modelling errors. The inability of the model to distinguish between snow and cloud, and its sensitivity to variations in surface albedo introduce artifacts in maps of the clear sky insolation. On the other hand, the mesoscale variability of individual hourly fields cannot be resolved using 'the satellite-based approach. Errors for these estimates are so large that they obscure the variability of the insolation field. The usefulness of the mapping procedure appears to be limited to assessments of the average insolation.

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