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Senior lecturer

Micael Runnström

Senior lecturer

Senior lecturer

Estimation of PAR over northern China from daily NOAA AVHRR cloud cover classifications


  • Micael Runnström
  • Sara Brogaard
  • Lennart Olsson

Summary, in English

Incoming Photosynthetic Active Radiation (PAR) is an essential variable for modelling aboveground primary

production of ecosystems through the light-use efficiency approach. A method is presented where daily classifications

of cloud cover (CLAVR) from the NOAA AVHRR satellite sensor is used to estimate surface incident short wave (SW)

flux from which PAR can be assessed. The study area is the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) of northern

China. Daily time steps of calculated theoretical incoming global radiation outside the atmosphere, is adjusted

according to the clear, mixed or cloudy classification in the NOAA Pathfinder data set at 8x8 km grid-cells. For the

different CLAVR classifications, empirical relationships to atmospheric transparency were established against

ground measurements of SW flux. Clear pixels corresponded to an average 61% penetration of the theoretical

radiation at the top of the atmosphere and mixed and cloudy pixels to 47% and 40% respectively. The CLAVR time

series is evaluated regarding consistency and diurnal precision against measured SW flux and hours of bright

sunshine. Modelled monthly fluxes over the growing season were acceptable compared to measured (NRMSE = 6.

6%) and about as good as deriving fluxes from measurements of bright sunshine hours. The global NOAA Pathfinder

archive provides an opportunity to assess PAR over the past 20 years at a considerably higher spatial resolution than

with methods based on geo-stationary meteorological satellite data sets and without interpolations from scarce

measurements of bright sunshine hours.


  • Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
  • LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)

Publishing year







Geocarto International





Document type

Journal article


Taylor & Francis


  • Physical Geography
  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary




  • ISSN: 1010-6049