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Comparison of estimates of daily solar radiation from air

temperature range for application in crop simulations


M.G. Abraha, M.J. Savage *
SoilPlantAtmosphere Continuum Research Unit, Agrometeorology Discipline, School of Environmental Sciences,
University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 3201 South Africa
1. Introduction
Crop simulation models have been successfully used to
provide simulations of growth, development and yield of
crops (Jones and Ritchie, 1990). Most crop simulation models
require daily solar radiation (I
s
), maximum and minimum air
temperatures (T
x
and T
n
), and precipitation (PP) (Whisler et al.,
1986; Ritchie, 1991; Hunt andBoote, 1998). Solar radiationis the
primary input for estimations of reference evaporation and
plant biomass accumulation in most crop simulation models.
a gr i c ul t ur a l a nd f o r e s t me t e or ol o gy 1 4 8 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 4 0 1 4 1 6
a r t i c l e i n f o
Article history:
Received 31 January 2007
Received in revised form
31 August 2007
Accepted 1 October 2007
Keywords:
Daily solar radiation
Air temperature range
Radiation modelling
Model evaluation
Crop yield modelling
a b s t r a c t
Daily solar radiation is an input required by most crop growth, development and yield
simulation models. It is, however, not observed at many locations, preventing the applica-
tion of such models. The objective of this work was to (i) evaluate several existing models
estimating solar radiation based on daily minimum and maximum air temperature and/or
precipitation for seven sites in the world, and (ii) investigate the impact of the estimated
solar radiation on grass reference evapotranspiration (ETo) and total plant dry biomass
simulations for maize. Comparisons of the solar radiation models was made based on a
single modular indicator, I
rad
, computed using a fuzzy expert systemthat aggregated several
statistical indices, and distribution of mean daily errors over a year. The model estimations
were also evaluated according to their ability to simulate ETo and total dry biomass that
matches simulations fromthe observed solar radiation. According to the I
rad
indicator, there
was no solar radiation model which consistently outperformed all the other models at all
the sites tested, but I
rad
indicated models that relatively underperformed at all the sites. The
graphical presentation of the mean uctuation of errors over a year gave a good assessment
of the solar radiation estimation models in investigating the temporal behaviour and
magnitude of the residuals. Performance of the models according to I
rad
and simulations
of grass ETo and total dry biomass agreed better for models that relatively underperformed.
Ranking of the models according to the root mean square error (RMSE) in solar radiation
estimation and the RMSE in the grass ETo simulations agreed very well. Comparison of the
ranking of the models using the I
rad
(or the individual statistical indices thereof) and total
biomass simulation was difcult because of the difference in the time scale used in
calculation of the statistical indices. The difference in simulations of total dry biomass
accumulated over the years, however, qualitatively agreed with the graphs of the mean
uctuation of errors over a year. In general, the I
rad
indicator demonstrated which solar
radiation estimation models should be used for crop simulation modelling.
# 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +27 33 2605514; fax: +27 33 2605514.
E-mail address: savage@ukzn.ac.za (M.J. Savage).
avai l abl e at www. sci encedi r ect . com
j our nal homepage: www. el sevi er . com/ l ocat e/ agr f or met
0168-1923/$ see front matter # 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2007.10.001
However, solar radiation data is not as readily available as air
temperature and precipitation data (Liu and Scott, 2001; Weiss
and Hays, 2004). Even at stations where solar radiation is
observed there could be many days when solar radiation data
are missing or lie outside the expectedrange due to equipment
failure and other problems (Hunt et al., 1998). These problems
could be one of many: calibration problems, problems with
dirt on the sensor, accumulated water, shading of the sensor
by masts, etc. The lack of solar radiation data restricts the
application of crop simulation models (Hook and McClendon,
1992) at locations where records on past crop experiments and
other weather variables are available. This has led researchers
to developa number of methods for estimating solar radiation.
Some of these methods include estimating solar radiation
from other available meteorological observations (e.g., A

ng-
strom, 1924; Cengiz et al., 1981; Bristow and Campbell, 1984;
Hargreaves et al., 1985; Hunt et al., 1998; Thornton and
Running, 1999; Liu and Scott, 2001; Mahmood and Hubbard,
2002), substitution of data from nearby stations (e.g., Hunt
et al., 1998; Trnka et al., 2005; Rivington et al., 2006), linear
interpolation (e.g., Soltani et al., 2004), interpolation in neural
networks (e.g., Elizondo et al., 1994; Reddy and Ranjan, 2003),
satellite-based methods (e.g., Pinker et al., 1995) and genera-
tion from stochastic weather models (e.g., Richardson and
Wright, 1984; Hansen, 1999).
For accurate crop simulations accurate inputs of the
weather variables, including solar radiation, are required.
Therefore, in the absence of solar radiation data, accurate
estimation techniques have considerable signicance. The
above techniques for estimating solar radiation have varying
degree of complexity, input requirements and accuracy of
outputs. Use of solar radiation data fromnearby stations is not
always the best option (e.g., Rivington et al., 2006) and their
accuracy decreases withincrease indistance (Hunt et al., 1998;
Trnka et al., 2005) as they are dependent on climate and/or
topography (e.g., Weiss et al., 2001; Rivington et al., 2006).
Linear interpolation requires solar radiation data at the site of
interest and often fails to reproduce the actual day-to-day
variation (e.g., Soltani et al., 2004). Training neural networks
usually requires large data sets and the resulting model may
not be applicable to other locations (Weiss and Hays, 2004).
The low sampling frequency and coarse spatial resolution of
satellite-based methods (Pinker et al., 1995) renders them
inadequate for site-specic application. Satellite-based meth-
ods are also relatively new and may not provide long-term
historical weather data. Generated weather data may be used
for creating possible scenarios, but cannot be used for
calibration and validation of crop simulation models for a
particular period of time (Hook and McClendon, 1992; Liu and
Scott, 2001).
Solar radiation estimation methods from other standard
meteorological observations, however, have the advantage
that the variables used for estimation are commonly observed
and available within the site of interest. The most common
approach of estimating daily solar radiation using these
methods is to determine the daily extraterrestrial solar
radiation (I
ex
) for the site and modify it using the daily
atmospheric transmission coefcient (tt
i
). The inter-relation-
ship between tt
i
and other meteorological observations such
as air temperature, atmospheric vapour pressure, precipita-
tion and sunshine duration is exploited to estimate daily solar
radiation.
Solar radiation can be easily estimated from sunshine
duration measurements using several equations with varying
degree of complexity following the classic work of A

ngstrom
(1924). In fact, models that estimate solar radiation from
sunshine duration fared better than models involving other
standard meteorological observations involving air tempera-
ture andprecipitation(e.g., Podesta et al., 2004; Rivingtonet al.,
2005; Trnka et al., 2005). However, sunshine duration is not
commonly observed in standard meteorological stations as
are air temperature and precipitation. In this context, solar
radiation estimation models based on daily air temperature
range and/or precipitation are attractive and viable options.
These models are very simplistic, but allow widespread
application because air temperature and precipitation are
observed practically in all meteorological stations.
The daily solar radiation that is received at the earths
surface strongly affects the thermal conditions at the surface
and the immediate atmosphere which in turn can be used as
an index of cloudiness and solar radiation load (Mahmood and
Hubbard, 2002). Solar radiation estimation models that utilize
these thermal conditions are based onthe assumptions that (i)
clear skies will increase the daily maximum air temperature
because of the greater short wave radiation input while
resulting in decreased minimum air temperature due to
reduced long wave emission from the atmosphere; and (ii)
cloudy conditions will decrease the daily maximum air
temperature due to reduced transmissivity while resulting
in increased minimum air temperature due to increased long
wave emissionfromthe clouds (Donatelli andCampbell, 1998).
Bristow and Campbell (1984) using this relationship estimated
daily solar radiation using an exponential function of daily air
temperature range (DT) and precipitation (see Appendix A for
details). They were able to account for 7090% of the variation
in incoming daily solar radiation data at three northwestern
sites in the USA. The Bristow and Campbell (hereafter called
BC) model has been modied by others for specic applica-
tions. For example, Donatelli and Marletto (1994) and Donatelli
and Campbell (1998) included a summer night air temperature
factor to improve underestimation of predicted values during
the summer; Goodin et al. (1999) rened the equation by
adding an extra I
ex
term that is meant to act as a scaling factor
allowing DT to accommodate a greater range of solar radiation
values, although Mahmood and Hubbard (2002) found it to
perform worse than the original model for the Northern Great
Plains; Thornton and Running (1999) introduced atmospheric
water vapour pressure to the equation in an attempt to
eliminate the need for site-specic calibration of coefcients;
andDonatelli andBellocchi (2001) attemptedto account for the
effect of seasonal variation by introducing a trigonometric
function. Hargreaves et al. (1985) also developed a simple
linear relationship between daily air temperature range and
tt
i
. Hunt et al. (1998), based on the evaluation of ve solar
radiation models, found best estimates in a model with
multiple-linear relationship between daily incoming solar
radiation, and air temperature and precipitation. Mahmood
and Hubbard (2002) also found more stable estimations of
daily incoming solar radiation from clear-sky solar radiation
and daily air temperature range compared with the BC model.
a g r i c ul t ur a l a nd f or e s t me t e o r o l og y 1 4 8 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 4 0 1 4 1 6 402
Most of these models require some observed solar radiation
data for derivation of coefcients, which may inhibit their
application at sites where solar radiation has not been
observed before.
Previous work in this eld has concentrated on evaluating
the uncertainty of daily solar radiationestimationmodels over
a localized area (e.g., Hunt et al., 1998; Liu and Scott, 2001;
Mahmood and Hubbard, 2002; Rivington et al., 2005). Evalua-
tion of most of the existing solar radiation estimation models
over a wide range of geography and climate in the world is
lacking. Therefore, the objective of this study was to (i)
compare various models that estimate daily global solar
radiation from daily maximum and minimum air tempera-
tures and/or precipitation over several locations in the world,
and (ii) investigate the impact of the estimated solar radiation
onsimulations of grass reference evapotranspirationand total
maize dry biomass using a cropping systems simulation
model (CropSyst).
2. Materials and methods
2.1. Data
Meteorological data were obtained from seven stations with a
range of latitude, longitude and elevation around the world.
Information on the sites and period of recorded data is
presentedinTable 1. The sites includedat least dailymaximum
andminimumair temperature(T
x
andT
n
), precipitation(PP) and
solar radiation (I
s
) data. The data were checked for outliers for
eachweather variable. For Davis, CAmissingdatawerereplaced
by data from another weather station at the same latitude and
longitude. For the other sites, if one or more weather variable
was missing, then all the weather variables for that day were
replaced by that from another year (a year or two of data were
set aside for such purposes for each site) of the same site and
day. Precipitation occurrences in that day and two previous
days were taken into account when replacing missing data as
thismayaffect theestimations. Thisavoidsreplacement of data
through optimization or other relationships and ensures that
the data are still from the same site. A year with more than 30
days of missing or faulty data was discarded (e.g., the year 1996
for Cortez, Colorado).
2.2. Solar radiation estimation formulae
For each site and year of available data, I
s
was estimated using
six solar radiation estimation models presented in Table 2.
These models were chosen as representative of the existing
models that utilize I
ex
and readily available weather data of T
x
,
T
n
and/or PP. Further information on the models is given in
Appendix A.
2.3. Coefcients
All the models require I
s
(MJ m
2
) for derivation of the
coefcients for estimation of solar radiation. The BC, CD
and DB models are contained within the software RadEst tool
(beta v3.00) (SIPEAA, 2006) and iterative optimization utilities
are provided within the software for determining the
coefcients. The RadEst tool has been used for estimation of
solar radiation in previous works (e.g., Bellocchi et al., 2002;
Rivington et al., 2006). Derivation of the coefcients for the
Hgvs model involved simple linear regression, and for the HKS
and MH models multiple-linear regression with natural log
transformations for the latter (Genstat, 2006). For each site, 3
years of daily data of T
x
, T
n
, PP, and I
s
were used for derivation
of the coefcients. The data sets used for derivation of
coefcients were from consecutive years with no or little
missing data. The derived coefcients were then used to
estimate solar radiation for all the years excluding the ones
used for derivation of the coefcients.
2.4. Statistical evaluation
Most studies evaluating the performance of solar radiation
models have traditionally used coefcient of determination
(R
2
), mean square error (RMSE) and/or model bias to assess
model suitability and comparison (e.g., Hunt et al., 1998; Liu
and Scott, 2001; Mahmood and Hubbard, 2002; Ball et al., 2004;
Chen et al., 2004; Weiss and Hays, 2004). Evaluation of the
performance of the solar radiation models using a particular
single or separate multiple statistics not organized in a
systematic manner may be inadequate as each statistic
evaluates a particular aspect of the model (Bellocchi et al.,
2002; Rivington et al., 2005). Bellocchi et al. (2002) argued that a
model may be deemed unsuitable according to one statistic
evaluating certain aspects of the model but other features of
the model may still be desirable. On the other hand, a model
may be judged suitable according to one statistic but it may be
decient according to another statistic. To obviate such
problems, Bellocchi et al. (2002) used a fuzzy-logic based
system that simultaneously considers several statistical
indices. The system allows aggregation of several statistical
indices into a single module by assigning an expert weight
according to the relative importance of the particular
Table 1 Sites of meteorological stations and period of data records used for estimation of solar radiation
Location Latitude Longitude Elevation (m) Period
Cortez, Colorado, USA 37814
0
(N) 108841
0
(W) 1833 19922005
Davis, California, USA 38832
0
(N) 121847
0
(W) 18 19852005
Padova, Italy 44858
0
(N) 12811
0
(W) 0 19902003
Rothamsted, UK 51848
0
(N) 0824
0
(E) 128 19802000
Wageningen, The Netherlands 51858
0
(N) 5838
0
(E) 7 19852005
Pretoria, South Africa 25845
0
(S) 28811
0
(E) 1308 19932003
Grifth, Australia 34817
0
(S) 14683
0
(E) 125 19862005
a g r i c ul t ur a l a nd f or e s t me t e o r o l og y 1 4 8 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 4 0 1 4 1 6 403
statistical index. The weight assigned to each statistical index
was on the basis of the authors experience. The modules are
also aggregated, in the same manner as for the indices, into a
single indicator. The indices and modules considered are
presented in Table 3. The indices relative root mean square
error (RRMSE), model efciency (EF) and two-tailed paired
t-test P(t) are aggregated into module Accuracy; correlation
coefcient (R) into module Correlation; and pattern of the
residuals against independent variables of day of year (PI
doy
)
and daily minimum air temperature (PI
Tn
) are aggregated into
module Pattern. Computation of the pattern indices, PI
doy
and
PI
Tn
, involves dividing the residuals into four groups according
to the independent variables and then calculating pairwise
differences between the four average residuals. Further
information on patterns of residuals is documented by
Donatelli et al. (2004). The modules Accuracy, Correlation
and Pattern are then aggregated into a single modular
indicator, I
rad
, which enabled ranking of the models (Fig. 1).
Three membership classes (subsets) are dened for all
indices: favourable (F), unfavourable (U) and partial (fuzzy)
membership. These membership classes, along with decision
rules, are used to calculate a dimensionless module whose
value ranges between0 (best model performance) and 1 (worst
model performance). Membership functions that are S-shaped
in transition interval were used (Bellocchi et al., 2002). The
relative importance of the indices, modules and the weights
assigned to them are presented in Fig. 1. Detailed illustration
of aggregation of indices into modules and modules into a
single indicator is presented by Bellocchi et al. (2002).
This study makes use of such an indicator to evaluate the
solar radiation models. The aggregation of indices into
modules and modules into an indicator was performed
following the logic in the IRENE_DLL system for model
implementation (Fila et al., 2003). Besides, a simple graphical
presentation of the mean difference between estimated and
observed solar radiation across all years for all the sites was
considered for assessment of the solar radiation models.
2.5. ETo and biomass simulations
Observed and estimated solar radiation along with T
x
, T
n
and
PP, maximum and minimum relative humidity (RH
x
and RH
n
)
or vapour pressure and wind speed were used to simulate
grass reference evapotranspiration (ETo) and total dry
biomass of maize at two sites for which the solar radiation
estimation was best and worst according to I
rad
as computed
for all the models. The only variable that kept changing with
each simulation was the solar radiation as observed and
estimated fromthe different models. Daily ETo was calculated
according to the FAO Penman-Monteith procedure as recom-
mended by Allen et al. (1998). A soil and plant growth
simulator, CropSysta multi-year multi-crop simulation
model developed to study the effect of cropping systems
management on productivity and environment (Sto ckle et al.,
2003), was used for biomass simulation purposes. The model
has beentested and validated for a wide range of management
conditions and a variety of crops and cropping systems in a
range of locations over the world (Sto ckle, 1996). Default crop
parameters for maize were used. Planting date at eachlocation
was set to that locally practiced. The simulationwas runfor all
the number of available continuous years in rotation along
with fallow conditions.
The effect of estimated solar radiation on simulated total
dry biomass of maize was analyzed using the difference
between cumulative and mean of total dry biomass
simulated from the observed and estimated solar radiation
inputs, seasonal means of absolute differences of total dry
biomass, R
2
during the simulation period, RMSE for indivi-
dual seasonal simulations and maximum error between the
seasonal dry biomass simulations from the observed and
estimated solar radiation inputs. The calculated statistical
measures were used in ranking the performance of the solar
radiation models on their ability to simulate total dry
biomass that matches that simulated using the observed
solar radiation.
Table 2 Models used for estimation of solar radiation
Authors Model abbreviation Model requirements
Bristow and Campbell (1984) BC I
ex
, T
x
, T
n
and PP
a
Donatelli and Campbell (1998) CD I
ex
, T
x
, T
n
and PP
Donatelli and Bellocchi (2001) DB I
ex
, T
x
, T
n
and PP
Hargreaves et al. (1985) Hgvs I
ex
, T
x
and T
n
Hunt et al. (1998) HKS I
ex
, T
x
, T
n
and PP
Mahmood and Hubbard (2002) MH I
ex
, T
x
and T
n
a
The BC, CD and DB models require presence or absence of PP while the HKS model requires the amount (see Appendix A).
Table 3 Statistical indices and modules used in evaluation of solar radiation models
Index Notation Range Best value Module
Relative root mean square error (%) RRMSE 01 0 Accuracy (amount of residuals)
Model efciency EF 1 to 1 1
Paired Student t-test probability of equal means P(t) 01 1
Correlation coefcient R 11 1 Correlation
Pattern index by day of year (MJ m
2
) PI
doy
01 0 Pattern (state of pattern in residuals)
Pattern index by minimum air temperature (MJ m
2
) PI
Tn
01 0
a g r i c ul t ur a l a nd f or e s t me t e o r o l og y 1 4 8 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 4 0 1 4 1 6 404
3. Results
All the solar radiation models were calibrated using 3 years
data for the specic locations under study. The coefcients
derived for each location and model are presented in Table 4.
Not many works report coefcients for models. Bellocchi et al.
(2002) reported model coefcients for the BC, CD and DB
models for several locations over the world. For these models,
the coefcients derived in our study fall within the range of
coefcients they reported. Bechini et al. (2000) for 29
locations in northern Italy and Trnka et al. (2005) for 10
locations in Czech Republic and Austria also reported model
Fig. 1 The statistical indices, modules and the indicator used for statistical evaluation along with the decision rules and
their systematic aggregation (indices: RRMSE, relative root mean square error; EF, model efficiency; P(t): two-tailed paired t-
test; R, correlation coefficient; PI
doy
and PI
Tn
pattern of the residuals by day of year and by minimum air temperature
respectively); modules: Accuracy, Correlation and Pattern, I
rad
, single modular indicator; F, favourable; U, unfavourable).
Table 4 Calibrated model coefficients for all locations
Model Parameter Location
Cortez,
Colorado,
USA
Davis,
California,
USA
Padova,
Italy
Rothamsted,
UK
Wageningen,
The Netherlands
Pretoria,
South
Africa
Grifth,
Australia
BC b 0.107 0.137 0.141 0.110 0.100 0.126 0.123
c 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
CD b 0.203 0.262 0.396 0.345 0.331 0.39 0.282
T
nc
104.1 44.5 42.1 106.1 64.1 84.8 100.0
DB b 0.112 0.122 0.131 0.106 0.099 0.134 0.119
c
1
0.034 0.026 0.040 0.011 0.026 0.053 0.015
c
2
1.410 1.410 0.008 1.183 0.215 0.041 1.137
Hgvs b
1
1.172 0.784 2.041 0.610 0.728 0.258 0.330
b
2
0.155 0.162 0.190 0.141 0.140 0.173 0.163
HKS b
0
1.112 0.301 1.420 0.022 0.235 0.149 2.197
b
1
0.161 0.164 0.186 0.147 0.132 0.169 0.169
b
2
0.032 0.050 0.003 0.019 0.039 0.021 0.112
b
3
0.355 0.264 0.302 0.356 0.305 0.395 0.760
b
4
0.004 0.004 0.003 0.008 0.008 0.006 0.019
MH b
0
0.077 0.067 0.076 0.146 0.099 0.263 0.374
b
1
0.758 0.796 0.897 0.488 0.721 0.791 0.745
b
2
1.129 1.172 1.122 1.151 1.088 0.775 0.677
See Appendix A for details of the models.
a g r i c ul t ur a l a nd f or e s t me t e o r o l og y 1 4 8 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 4 0 1 4 1 6 405
coefcients for the CD model. The T
nc
parameter, in both
cases, appeared to be smaller than presented in this study.
This could be because of the localized location they used for
their studies.
The Hgvs and HKS models predicted quite a few negative
solar radiation values at low daily air temperature range
records, especially in the temperate sites during winter. The
estimated solar radiation for such days was set to zero. The
HKS model, because it uses a polynomial function of daily
precipitation amount for estimation of solar radiation, also
predicted an unreasonably high solar radiation at high
precipitation records, in two occasions for Pretoria and
Grifth. Assuming these days were overcast, the value of
estimated solar radiation was corrected by multiplying the I
ex
by 0.25 for such days (Gates, 1980).
3.1. Model evaluation according to the indicator I
rad
Mean values of indices and modules are calculated and
presented in Table 5 for each site. Table 6 also presents the
mean indices and modules for each model over all the sites. It
is apparent from Table 5 that ranking of the solar radiation
models based on an individual statistic or index is difcult. A
model may perform well according to one index but may not
Table 5 Performance of the solar radiation models by site according to mean of the indices RRMSE (relative root mean
square error), EF (model efficiency), P(t) (two-tailed paired t-test), R (correlation coefficient), and PI
doy
and PI
Tn
(pattern of
residuals by day of year and minimum air temperature respectively); and the modules Accuracy, Correlation and Pattern,
and the indicator, I
rad
Location Model RRMSE
(%)
EF P(t) R PI
doy
(MJ m
2
)
PI
Tn
(MJ m
2
)
Accuracy Correlation Pattern I
rad
Cortez,
Colorado, USA
BC 17.50 0.84 0.14 0.92 1.78 1.55 0.1848 0.0006 0.3799 0.1759
CD 17.77 0.83 0.00 0.92 1.74 1.35 0.2286 0.0006 0.3741 0.1962
DB 18.42 0.82 0.03 0.92 1.83 1.66 0.2186 0.0016 0.4084 0.1902
Hgvs 18.34 0.83 0.17 0.91 1.89 2.08 0.1676 0.0022 0.5606 0.2227
HKS 16.88 0.85 0.07 0.93 1.69 1.59 0.1905 0.0000 0.4297 0.1970
MH 19.32 0.80 0.04 0.91 2.94 1.79 0.2123 0.0008 0.7147 0.2823
Davis,
California, USA
BC 15.23 0.91 0.08 0.96 2.44 2.02 0.1445 0.0000 0.7416 0.2738
CD 14.34 0.92 0.07 0.96 1.82 1.06 0.1449 0.0000 0.3241 0.1326
DB 14.68 0.91 0.17 0.96 1.92 1.50 0.1225 0.0000 0.4578 0.1719
Hgvs 15.87 0.90 0.08 0.95 1.80 1.27 0.1675 0.0000 0.3616 0.1517
HKS 15.30 0.91 0.08 0.96 1.77 1.51 0.1796 0.0000 0.4018 0.1700
MH 20.28 0.83 0.08 0.93 3.72 1.96 0.1975 0.0000 0.7545 0.3018
Padova, Italy BC 26.34 0.82 0.24 0.91 2.23 1.86 0.2396 0.0008 0.6632 0.2880
CD 25.72 0.83 0.03 0.92 1.70 1.13 0.2141 0.0004 0.2970 0.2126
DB 26.32 0.82 0.08 0.91 1.90 1.51 0.2674 0.0004 0.4925 0.2542
Hgvs 25.42 0.84 0.00 0.92 1.15 1.34 0.2971 0.0000 0.1628 0.1541
HKS 23.54 0.86 0.00 0.93 1.30 1.30 0.2463 0.0000 0.2096 0.1359
MH 28.73 0.79 0.00 0.91 2.76 1.13 0.4255 0.0012 0.5154 0.3787
Rothamsted, UK BC 31.51 0.83 0.24 0.91 0.92 0.70 0.3739 0.0003 0.0557 0.1838
CD 31.69 0.82 0.19 0.92 0.99 0.79 0.4280 0.0002 0.0555 0.2313
DB 31.66 0.82 0.31 0.91 0.81 0.68 0.3579 0.0008 0.0368 0.1611
Hgvs 34.30 0.79 0.04 0.90 0.88 0.84 0.5401 0.0028 0.0650 0.3307
HKS 32.26 0.82 0.10 0.91 0.81 1.08 0.4491 0.0007 0.0850 0.2470
MH 37.43 0.75 0.00 0.89 2.4 0.86 0.6461 0.0097 0.4428 0.5131
Wageningen,
The Netherlands
BC 33.96 0.81 0.14 0.90 1.36 1.10 0.4960 0.0057 0.1412 0.3063
CD 33.27 0.81 0.07 0.91 1.16 0.85 0.4968 0.0021 0.1250 0.3036
DB 34.24 0.80 0.11 0.90 1.24 1.13 0.5046 0.0066 0.1277 0.3128
Hgvs 33.26 0.81 0.07 0.91 1.17 1.09 0.4924 0.0011 0.1325 0.3111
HKS 36.33 0.78 0.00 0.92 1.82 1.44 0.6164 0.0001 0.4095 0.4870
MH 35.11 0.79 0.00 0.91 2.55 1.12 0.5838 0.0006 0.4692 0.4708
Pretoria,
South Africa
BC 15.81 0.74 0.06 0.88 1.66 1.44 0.2669 0.0676 0.3422 0.2143
CD 15.87 0.74 0.08 0.88 1.68 0.99 0.2605 0.0642 0.2399 0.1703
DB 16.47 0.72 0.04 0.86 1.11 0.59 0.2698 0.0954 0.0929 0.1349
Hgvs 17.62 0.69 0.01 0.85 1.76 1.25 0.3377 0.1591 0.3036 0.2670
HKS 16.23 0.71 0.05 0.74 1.39 0.84 0.2937 0.8476 0.1195 0.2887
MH 17.24 0.69 0.04 0.84 1.71 1.94 0.3217 0.2021 0.5181 0.3422
Grifth, Australia BC 21.77 0.78 0.06 0.89 1.37 1.60 0.2301 0.0131 0.3721 0.1945
CD 21.53 0.79 0.12 0.90 1.82 1.69 0.2105 0.0116 0.4511 0.2157
DB 21.62 0.79 0.06 0.89 1.25 2.15 0.2117 0.0101 0.4582 0.2172
Hgvs 21.38 0.79 0.23 0.90 1.55 1.64 0.1553 0.0093 0.3969 0.1637
HKS 20.74 0.80 0.25 0.90 1.92 1.33 0.1644 0.0197 0.3721 0.1699
MH 22.74 0.77 0.12 0.88 2.19 1.36 0.2502 0.0289 0.5286 0.2682
a g r i c ul t ur a l a nd f or e s t me t e o r o l og y 1 4 8 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 4 0 1 4 1 6 406
do so according to another. Overall, according to I
rad
, the DB
(0.2061) model closely followed by the CD (0.2089) model was
ranked top of the group. The DB model had in general best
results for PI
doy
while the CD model was best according to
RRMSE, EF and PI
Tn
. The correlation coefcient, R, had little
effect on the integrated index, I
rad
, as the R value for most of
the sites and years was close to or greater than 0.9 except for
Pretoria. The MH model was ranked last of the group with an
overall I
rad
value of 0.3655, by far larger (less desirable) than
the other models. The MH model also was often ranked last of
the group according to most of the other indices for each site.
The mean values of indices and modules over all years for all
the sites may be indicative of model performance for that
index and module but it should not mean that the model
rankedrst based onthat overall meanindex or module is best
for all sites. It should also be noted that the aggregation of the
indices was performed on a yearly basis and not after
averaging across all years. In evaluating the models, not only
the rank but also the difference between the scores of each
rank for each model should be considered.
The BC model, according to I
rad
, appeared to perform well
for higher elevation (Cortez (0.1759), Rothamsted (0.1838),
Pretoria (0.2143) and Grifth (0.1945)) than for lower
elevation (Padova (0.2880), Davis (0.2738) and Wageningen
(0.3063)) sites (Table 5). The best result of I
rad
achieved by
this model was for Cortez. This was also the best I
rad
value
scored for that site. The BC model had the best overall
results for the paired t-test and in general, it produced small
residuals compared to the other models with overall mean
RMSE of 3.27 MJ m
2
(Table 6). This enabled it to achieve rst
rank according to the overall mean Accuracy (Table 6). It also
produced the best Accuracy result at one site and second to
best at ve other sites. Otherwise it produced large PI
doy
and
PI
Tn
values which resulted in large Pattern (less desirable)
values compared to the other models, especially for the
lower elevation sites. The model was also not consistent in
the ranks it achieved according to the module Pattern for the
individual sites.
The CDmodel was rankedsecondwitha slightly greater I
rad
value than the DB model (Table 6). The CDmodel was strong in
producing small PI
Tn
values. According to this index, it was the
best model at four sites (Cortez, Davis, Padova and Wagenin-
gen), and this led to best Pattern result at three of these sites
(Cortez, Davis and Wageningen). But it produced larger
residuals which saw it ranked in the middle of the group
according to the module Accuracy (Table 6). It had particularly
poor results for the paired t-test, P(t), for which it was ranked
last at two sites (Cortez and Davis). Otherwise it produced
overall best results for the indices RRMSE (RMSE 3.23 MJ m
2
)
and EF (0.82) (Table 6).
The DB model was the best of all the models according to
I
rad
(Table 6). The rank of the model according to most of the
individual indices was about average at all the sites. It resulted
in two best Accuracies (Davis and Rothamsted) and two best
Patterns (Rothamsted and Pretoria). Its overall RMSE value was
3.27 MJ m
2
(Table 6). The DB model generally produced larger
PI
Tn
at most sites but it produced best results of PI
doy
at two
sites (Rothamsted and Pretoria) that nally enabled it to
achieve the best Pattern value at those sites.
The Hgvs model was ranked third in the overall ranking
according to I
rad
(Table 6). The model did not show
consistency in the ranks it achieved according to most
modules and indices. For example, it resulted in best
Accuracy at three sites (Cortez, Wageningen and Grifth)
but then it was at the tail of the ranks for all the other sites for
the same module. Consequently, it was ranked fth in the
overall ranking for all sites according to the module Accuracy.
The model was ranked second according to the module
Pattern. This was mainly because it produced about the
smallest PI
doy
at two sites (Padova and Wageningen) com-
pared to the other models.
The HKS model was ranked fth in the overall ranking
according to I
rad
(Table 6). This model also did not show
consistency in the ranks it achieved according to I
rad
as it
scored different ranks at different sites, from rst to last
(Table 5). Its overall ranking according to the modules
Accuracy and Pattern was fourth and third respectively. It
scored the best result for module Pattern at Grifth jointly
withthe BCmodel. This was mainly because of the best result
inPI
Tn
(see Table 5). At the other sites, it produced best results
of PI
doy
(Cortez, Davis and Rothamsted), however, the
corresponding PI
Tn
values were not as good to result in best
Pattern values. The HKS model appeared not to perform well
for the semi-aridregions where there occurredinfrequent but
high rainfall amounts. This was reected in the module
Correlation at Pretoria and Grifth, where the HKS model was
ranked last and second to last respectively according to this
module.
The MH model, which was ranked last according to I
rad
(Table 6), was almost consistently ranked last of the models
according to all the indices and modules (Table 5). The only
time that it came out of the last ranks was when the models
were ranked according to the paired t-test, P(t), in which there
was no clear pattern of ranks, and PI
Tn
.
Table 6 Performance of each model for the indices RMSE (root mean square error), RRMSE (relative root mean square
error), EF (model efficiency), P(t) (two-tailed paired t-test), R (correlation coefficient) and PI
doy
and PI
Tn
(pattern of residuals
by day of year and minimum air temperature respectively); and the modules Accuracy, Correlation and Pattern, and the
indicator, I
rad
as averaged over all the sites
Model RMSE
(MJ m
2
)
RRMSE
(%)
EF P(t) R PI
doy
(MJ m
2
)
PI
Tn
(MJ m
2
)
Accuracy Correlation Pattern I
rad
BC 3.27 23.16 0.82 0.14 0.91 1.68 1.47 0.2765 0.0126 0.3851 0.2338
CD 3.23 22.89 0.82 0.08 0.91 1.53 1.12 0.2948 0.0113 0.2667 0.2089
DB 3.30 23.34 0.81 0.11 0.91 1.44 1.32 0.2789 0.0164 0.2963 0.2061
Hgvs 3.36 23.74 0.81 0.09 0.91 1.46 1.36 0.3082 0.0249 0.2833 0.2288
HKS 3.24 23.31 0.82 0.08 0.90 1.53 1.30 0.3053 0.1240 0.2896 0.2422
MH 3.66 25.83 0.78 0.04 0.90 2.61 1.45 0.3767 0.0348 0.5633 0.3653
a g r i c ul t ur a l a nd f or e s t me t e o r o l og y 1 4 8 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 4 0 1 4 1 6 407
3.2. Patterns of observed versus estimated daily mean
errors
Agraphical distributionof meandaily errors over a year for the
sites considered could indicate a systematic behaviour of the
model and serve as a means of quick visual evaluation of
model performance (Rivington et al., 2005). A graph of the
mean daily errors against day of year (Fig. 2) revealed the
existence of temporal and spatial pattern for most of the
models. The patterns appeared to be different for the northern
and southern hemisphere sites, but similar within the
respective hemispheres for each model implying that solar
radiation estimations are dependent on latitude and season.
Cortez, with the highest elevation of all the sites in this study,
showeda patternwhichis less clear or different fromthe other
sites for some of the models. This also suggests that
estimations may be dependent on elevation as well. In
general, Davis and Padova showed the smallest and largest
uctuations of mean daily errors respectively for all sites.
For convenience, the seasons winter, spring, summer and
autumn for the northern hemisphere are dened roughly as
the months fromDecember to February, March to May, June to
August and September to November respectively; and for the
southern hemisphere June to August, September to Novem-
ber, December to February and March to May respectively.
The BCmodel showed similar patterns at Davis and Padova
with an overestimation of solar radiation in winter, early
spring, late summer andautumnandunderestimationof solar
radiation in late spring and early summer. Aslight tendency of
overestimation was observed at both Cortez and Rothamsted
in summer. For the southern hemisphere sites, the mean daily
errors were well distributed around the observed mean at
Pretoria from autumn through spring but an overestimation
was observed at Grifth for similar seasons. The best I
rad
value
for BC was observed at Cortez (0.1759).
The CD model, for the sites in the northern hemisphere,
overestimated (Cortez) and underestimated (Rothamsted and
Wageningen) in winter. At Davis, underestimation in winter,
spring and summer and overestimation in autumn was
observed. At Padova, errors were evenly distributed with a
tendency of underestimation in summer. In the southern
hemisphere the model overestimated solar radiationfromlate
autumnup to late spring but resultedinanevendistributionof
errors in spring and summer. The best I
rad
value for the CD
model was observed at Davis (0.1326) where the uctuations of
the mean daily errors were small.
The DB model, for the sites in the northern hemisphere,
appeared to overestimate solar radiation in winter, early
spring and autumn but underestimate it in late autumn and
summer (Cortez, Davis and Padova). The errors were evenly
Fig. 2 Difference between estimated and observed mean daily solar radiation against day of year for all models and sites.
a g r i c ul t ur a l a nd f or e s t me t e o r o l og y 1 4 8 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 4 0 1 4 1 6 408
distributed for Rothamsted with a tendency to underestimate
at Wageningen. For the sites in the southern hemisphere, the
DB model overestimated solar radiation for most of the year.
The best I
rad
value for the DB model was for Pretoria (0.1349)
although the model seemed to overestimate from autumn to
late spring at this site.
The Hgvs model showed the tendency to overestimate solar
radiationat all of thenorthernhemispheresitesexcept at Cortez
where errors were evenly distributed and at Padova where the
model underestimatedduringwinter andearlysummer. For the
southern hemisphere sites, in spring, the model tended to
overestimate at Pretoria and underestimate at Grifth. The best
I
rad
valueobservedfor themodel was at Davis (0.1517) wherethe
uctuations of the mean daily errors were small.
For the HKS model, there was no clear pattern of errors for
the northern hemisphere sites. At Wageningen, solar radia-
tion was underestimated almost throughout the year. At
Rothamsted, the errors seem to be evenly distributed. At
Cortez, they appear to be evenly distributed in spring and
summer with underestimations in winter and autumn. At
Davis, the errors uctuated about the mean with a slight
tendency to underestimate in spring and summer. Large
underestimations were observedat Padova inthe summer. For
the southern hemisphere, the HKS model overestimated in all
the seasons except in summer. The best I
rad
value for the HKS
model was observed at Padova (0.1359). But the model
appeared to underestimate solar radiation in summer and
also the largest uctuations of errors for all models were
observed at this site.
The existence of patterns was best illustrated by the MH
model where all the sites produced similar shapes of
uctuation of mean daily errors for the respective hemi-
spheres. For the rst half of the year, the sites in the northern
hemisphere showed a V shaped pattern in which there was
consistent underestimation of solar radiation. This was
followed by an even uctuation of errors in the second half
of the year. For the sites in the southern hemisphere, the
model produced errors with a W shape in which an
overestimation occurred in the middle of the year. The best
I
rad
value for the MH model was observed at Grifth where the
temporal distribution of the daily mean errors uctuated
around the mean throughout the year except in autumn.
3.3. Grass ETo and biomass simulation
Grass ETo and total dry biomass were simulated for Davis and
Wageningen for which solar radiation estimation models
collectively produced the smallest and largest I
rad
values
respectively (Table 5). For the grass ETo simulation, the full
weather data set including T
x
, T
n
, PP, RH
x
and RH
n
or water
vapour pressure and wind speed along with the observed and
estimated solar radiation were used. For total dry biomass
simulation, all the available years with observed and
estimated solar radiation at both sites were used.
Fig. 3 Grass ETo simulated from observed and model-estimated solar radiation for Davis, California.
a g r i c ul t ur a l a nd f or e s t me t e o r o l og y 1 4 8 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 4 0 1 4 1 6 409
For both Davis and Wageningen, the grass ETo simulated
from observed and estimated solar radiation appear to be well
distributed along the 1:1 line (Figs. 3 and 4) with a slight
overestimation of lower and underestimation of higher values
of grass ETo. Slope, intercept, R
2
and RMSE, presented in the
graph, were used to rank the models, although not as
rigorously as I
rad
. Wageningen had a lower slope and larger
RMSE compared with Davis implying that the solar radiation
was not well estimated at Wageningen as it was at Davis. The
ranking of the models according to I
rad
was reected in the
ranking of the models according to the grass ETo simulation at
Davis but not at Wageningen, with only the rst and last ranks
matching at Wageningen. Nevertheless, the RMSE achieved
from the grass ETo simulations for both sites conrmed the
ranking of the solar radiation models for Davis and Wagenin-
gen according to the index RRMSE (Table 5).
The total dry biomass simulated using the observed solar
radiation is taken as a baseline and all simulations from
model-estimated solar radiation were compared against it
(Table 7). The smallest and largest mean differences (magni-
tude) between the baseline and model-simulated solar
radiation simulations were, in tonnes ha
1
, 0.02 and 0.71
(n = 18), and 0.31 and 1.53 (n = 19) for Davis and Wageningen
respectively. These suggest that the simulations of total dry
biomass from model-estimated solar radiation reasonably
matched the baseline simulations. The agreement between
the baseline and model-estimated solar radiation simulations
of total dry biomass was better for Davis compared to
Wageningen (Fig. 5), as was the solar radiation estimation
from all the models for these sites. The total and mean
differences presented in Table 7 indicated that, for both Davis
and Wageningen, the simulated total dry biomass from all
model-estimated solar radiation was underestimated except
for an overestimation from the DB model at Davis and the
Hgvs model at Wageningen. But the magnitude of the
underestimations was greater at Wageningen than at Davis.
Fig. 5 illustrates the extent of the under and overestimations of
total dry biomass for each season by all models for both sites.
The total biomass simulation for the BC model at Davis, in
general, resultedina closest matchto the baseline simulations
compared with simulations from the other models. The
largest seasonal under and overestimations by this model
were (tonnes ha
1
) 0.73 and 0.59 respectively (only the larger
of the two in magnitude is presented in Table 7). These
indicated that there was compensation of errors from the
under and overestimations in the total biomass simulations
over all the years. As a result, the absolute difference for this
model was by far larger than that indicated by the mean
difference (Table 7). The total and mean differences also
indicated that the CD model underestimated the total and
mean biomass simulations (Table 7). The CD model under-
estimated the seasonal total biomass simulations in almost all
years leaving little room for error compensation in the total
dry biomass accumulated over all the years (Fig. 5). The largest
Fig. 4 Grass ETo simulated from observed and model-estimated solar radiation for Wageningen, The Netherlands.
a g r i c ul t ur a l a nd f or e s t me t e o r o l og y 1 4 8 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 4 0 1 4 1 6 410
under and overestimations by this model were (tonnes ha
1
)
0.81 and 0.49 respectively. In contrast, the total and mean
biomass simulations were overestimated by the DB model.
The DB model was the only model that overestimated the
total dry biomass simulations at Davis. The largest under
and overestimations by this model were 0.48 and
1.77 tonnes ha
1
respectively. The largest overestimation that
occurred with the simulations using the DB model-estimated
solar radiation was an isolated single incidence that happened
in a year when the DB model overestimated the solar radiation
for most of the days during the growing season. Otherwise,
the next largest overestimation by the model was
0.67 tonnes ha
1
. The total and mean difference of total
biomass simulations fromthe Hgvs and HKS models produced
second and third closest match to the baseline simulations
respectively. These models also had well distributed under
and overestimations, and simulations with close to zero errors
(Fig. 5). The smallest absolute maximum error in the biomass
simulations (0.66 tonnes ha
1
) was observed from the Hgvs
model. The largest under and overestimations for Hgvs and
HKS models were (tonnes ha
1
) 0.66 and 0.62, and 0.70 and
0.63 respectively. The absolute differences indicated that
these two models and the BC model simulated seasonal dry
biomass that matched well to the baseline compared with the
other models (Table 7). The MH model consistently under-
estimated the total biomass simulation for all seasons except
once implying there was no room for error compensation in
the total dry biomass accumulation. Consequently, it was the
worst according to the measures of total, mean and absolute
differences. The largest under and overestimations by this
model were (tonnes ha
1
) 1.63 and 0.06 respectively.
At Wageningen, the picture was different with most of the
models underestimating the total dry biomass over all the
years andseasons. The BCmodel hadthree, the CDandDBhad
Fig. 5 Total dry biomass (tonnes ha
S1
) simulations from using observed and estimated solar radiation from the different
models (a) for Davis, California and (b) Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Table 7 Statistical comparison of total dry biomass (tonnes ha
S1
) simulations for maize at Davis, California and
Wageningen, The Netherlands using observed and estimated solar radiation
Observed BC CD DB Hgvs HKS MH
Davis, California (n = 18)
Acc. total dry biomass (tonnes ha
1
) 177.26 176.88 174.34 180.49 176.74 176.22 164.53
Total difference (tonnes ha
1
) (0.38) (2.92) 7.51 (0.52) (1.04) (12.74)
Mean total dry biomass (tonnes ha
1
) 9.85 9.83 9.69 10.03 9.82 9.79 9.14
Mean difference (tonnes ha
1
) (0.02) (0.16) 0.18 (0.03) (0.06) (0.71)
Maximum error (tonnes ha
1
) (0.73) (0.81) 1.77 (0.66) (0.70) (1.63)
mean absolute error (tonnes ha
1
) 0.25 0.29 0.38 0.24 0.25 0.72
RMSE (tonnes ha
1
) 0.321 0.355 0.531 0.319 0.330 0.848
R
2
0.99 0.99 0.98 0.99 0.99 0.99
Wageningen, The Netherlands (n = 19)
Acc. total dry biomass (tonnes ha
1
) 345.33 331.95 336.15 338.55 351.13 316.33 320.04
Total difference (tonnes ha
1
) (13.38) (9.19) (6.78) 5.80 (29.00) (23.50)
Mean total dry biomass (tonnes ha
1
) 18.18 17.47 17.69 17.82 18.48 16.65 16.84
Mean difference (tonnes ha
1
) (0.70) (0.48) (0.36) 0.31 (1.53) (1.33)
Maximum error (tonnes ha
1
) (1.77) (1.82) (1.57) 1.76 (2.98) (2.67)
Mean absolute error (tonnes ha
1
) 0.87 0.61 0.64 0.54 1.66 1.45
RMSE (tonnes ha
1
) 0.981 0.790 0.743 0.697 1.841 1.610
R
2
0.90 0.92 0.91 0.91 0.82 0.86
Acc. dry biomass: the total dry biomass accumulated during the simulation period; total and mean difference: the absolute differences in total
and mean dry biomass simulated from estimated and observed solar radiation; maximum error: the largest absolute difference in simulated
total dry biomass (negative values indicate the direction of change); RMSE: root mean square error; R
2
: coefcient of determination.
a g r i c ul t ur a l a nd f or e s t me t e o r o l og y 1 4 8 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 4 0 1 4 1 6 411
four, and the HKS and MH had two seasons in which there
was an overestimation otherwise the total dry biomass
simulations were underestimated in all the seasons. The
overestimations also appeared to be smaller in magnitude
than the underestimations. This indicated that there was little
room for compensation of errors in the total dry biomass
simulations accumulated over all the years. The largest under
andoverestimations by these models were (tonnes ha
1
) 1.77
and 0.73, 1.82 and 0.59, 1.57 and 1.02, 2.98 and 0.97, and
2.67 and 0.62 for the BC, CD, DB, HKS and MH models
respectively. The Hgvs model, however, overestimated the
total dry biomass in more than half of the total simulation
years with underestimation in the rest of the years. The
overestimations were larger than the underestimations. The
largest under and overestimations by this model were
(tonnes ha
1
) 0.54 and 1.76 respectively. The largest and
smallest absolute maximum errors observed in the simula-
tions were by the HKS (2.98 tonnes ha
1
) and DB
(1.57 tonnes ha
1
) models respectively. The under and over-
estimations observed in the total biomass simulation at this
site were in accordance with the mean daily error graphs of
model-estimated solar radiation for Wageningen (Fig. 2).
According to most of the statistics (Table 7) used in the
biomass simulation the MHmodel was ranked last at Davis, as
it was in the solar radiation estimation according to I
rad
. The
ranking of the CD and BC models seems to have swapped
ranks according to the statistics used in the biomass
simulation compared with the ranking according to I
rad
. The
CD and BC models were ranked rst and fth according to I
rad
respectively, but the BC model was ranked rst and the CD
fourth several times according to the statistics used in the
biomass simulation. But it should be noted that the difference
inscore among the four models ranked rst to fourthusing the
statistics in the biomass simulation was small. Most of the
statistics used in the biomass simulation were measures of
residuals, but the CD model was ranked rst at Davis mainly
because it produced the best result for the module Pattern
otherwise it produced similar residuals compared to some of
the other models. The ranking of the rest of the models
according to the statistics used in the biomass simulation at
this site was similar to the ranking of the models according to
I
rad
.
At Wageningen, the HKS and MH models were ranked last
and second to last respectively according to I
rad
, and so were
they in their ranking according to the statistics used in the
biomass simulation. There was little difference in the score of
I
rad
for the other four models and this was reected in the
ranking according to the statistics used in the biomass
simulation. But, overall, the Hgvs model appeared to be
ranked rst by most of the statistics used in the biomass
simulations followed by the DB, CD and BC models. This
ranking did not match the ranking of the solar radiation
models according to the I
rad
scores, or for that matter any of
the modules or conventionally used statistical indices thereof.
4. Discussion
The results demonstratedthat most of the models testedwere,
in general, able to adequately estimate daily solar radiation
from daily air temperature range and/or precipitation. The
ranking of the models, according the indicator, I
rad
, revealed
that there was no model as such which consistently out-
performed all of the other models at all sites. It, however,
indicated that the performance of the MH model was
consistently lower (largest I
rad
value) at all sites compared
to the other models.
The values of the indices and modules achieved for each
model from the calculation indicate the strength and weak-
nesses of the model in dealing with the respective index
(Table 5) (Bellocchi et al., 2002). The BC model produced better
residuals (RRMSE, EF and P(t)) but poor patterns (PI
doy
and PI
Tn
).
The CDmodel was good in handling the indices RRMSE, EF and
PI
Tn
but was poor in P(t). The DB model was particularly good in
producing better P(t) and PI
doy
. The Hgvs model appears to
performwell inall the indices but PI
doy
. The performance of the
HKSmodel wasabout anaverageintheoverall resultsof most of
the indices but lacked consistency at the individual sites. The
MH model showed some strength for the index PI
Tn
only but
otherwise it was poor according to all indices and modules.
The models contained within the RadEst tool (BC, CD and
DB) generally performed very well. The BC model was superior
in producing smaller residuals than the CD and DB models at
most of the sites. But it was inconsistent in the patterns of
residuals it produced. This may be expected as the improve-
ment of the CDand DB models over the BC model was in these
aspects. Although correlation had little effect in the sites
tested, the CD model appeared to produce better correlations.
The DB model had the overall best I
rad
value, but the CDmodel
relatively produced better individual indices at most of the
sites. The overall ranks that the DB and CD models achieved
and the consistency that they showed in the scores of the
individual indices makes them better options for estimating
solar radiation from daily air temperature range and pre-
cipitation.
The Hgvs model, considering the simplicity of the formulae
and relative ease of deriving the coefcients for each
geographic area compared to the other models, performed
well to be ranked third in the overall ranking. But the
inconsistency in the results of the statistical indices that it
had showed makes it less desirable as a better option for
estimating solar radiation. The largest uctuations that were
observed from this model were during the rainy season
implying the inclusion of precipitation in solar radiation
models is appropriate.
The HKS model includes the precipitation quantity as PP
and (PP)
2
in its formulae. The coefcients of these two
variables were negative and positive respectively for all sites.
In the case of high rainfall amounts, the estimated solar
radiation could be by far greater than that observed. It may be
easy to detect and correct such estimations when they lie
outside the expected range of solar radiation but not when
they lie within the expected range. The latter can cause
undesirable model performance. Moreover, the coefcients
derived for such a model may be erroneous if derived using a
calibrationdata set with abnormally high precipitationvalues.
Liu and Scott (2001) found that models that use precipitation
as a binary input (present or absent) to performbetter than the
ones that use precipitation quantity such as HKS. In general,
the HKS model may have less application for semi-arid
a g r i c ul t ur a l a nd f or e s t me t e o r o l og y 1 4 8 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 4 0 1 4 1 6 412
climates where infrequent and high rainfall amounts may be
observed.
The MH model showed clear seasonal and spatial patterns
as was illustrated for the northern and southern hemisphere
sites irrespective of latitude, altitude and distance to the coast.
Mahmood and Hubbard (2002) foundsimilar results whenthey
compared the MH with the BC model, leading them to
conclude that the MH model was more stable. But they found
the BC model to slightly outperform the MH model based on
RMSE, d index of agreement (Willmott, 1981) and relative error
for the Northern Great Plains. Identication of the cause of the
patterns the MH model showed could help in modication of
the model to better estimate solar radiation.
Of particular interest is also the uctuation of errors at
Padova. Padova showed consistently the largest temporal
uctuations of errors compared to the other sites for all
models. This could be due to, as Padova is located near the
Adriatic Sea, a maritime climate inuence. Rivington et al.
(2005) have noted similar observations for sites located near
the coast in the UK.
Rivington et al. (2005) illustrated uctuations of mean daily
errors for sites in the UK using the CD and DB models. These
were similar to the uctuations observed at Rothamsted in
this study, but the values of I
rad
and other indices calculated
for Rothamsted in this study were better than theirs. The
difference in number and type of data sets used for calibration
and validation of the models might be responsible for these
discrepancies. In general, they achieved I
rad
values ranging
from 0.301 to 0.642 and 0.322 to 0.633 using the CD and DB
models respectively for several locations in the UK. In other
studies, involving data from ten locations around the world,
I
rad
values ranging between 0.0086 and 0.5518, 0.0385 and
0.5040, and 0.0044 and 0.4704 were reported for the BC, CDand
DB models respectively (Bellocchi et al., 2002). The I
rad
values
calculated in this study for all the sites fall well between the
ranges reported in both the above studies. The RMSE has been
widely used for evaluation of daily solar radiation models and
mean or range of this value (in MJ m
2
) reported by other
authors include: for the BC model 3 (Bristow and Campbell,
1984), 4.7 (Hunt et al., 1998), 3.534.78 (Mahmood and Hubbard,
2002); for the CD model 2.374.26 (Donatelli and Campbell,
1998); for the DB model 2.33.9 (Bechini et al., 2000); for
the Hgvs model 4.24.7 (Hunt et al., 1998); for the HKS model
3.44.1 (Hunt et al., 1998); and for the MH model 3.904.93
(Mahmood and Hubbard, 2002). The range of RMSE achieved in
this study for all models at the individual locations was (in
MJ m
2
) between 2.56 and 4.11 (data not shown) which falls
well within the ranges reported in the other studies.
The statistical results (Table 7) and graphical presentations
(Figs. 35) demonstrated that estimates of solar radiation from
daily air temperature range and/or precipitation could be
successfully used for grass ETo and total dry biomass simula-
tions. But careshouldbeexercisedinchoosingthebest model to
represent the actual solar radiation. At Davis, estimations from
all the models but the MH model could be successfully used in
place of measured data for biomass simulation purposes. At
Wageningen, the systematic errors in model-estimated solar
radiationmaycause asystematic bias intotal plant drybiomass
simulations. But still, the Hgvs, DB, CD and BC models could be
used to give a representative total dry biomass simulation at
this site. The choice of model-estimations may also depend on
particular interest of application. For example, at Wageningen
the Hgvs model should be used if the interest is the smallest
absolutedifference andthe DBif thesmallest maximumerror is
required. The statistical results used in the grass ETo using
observed and estimated inputs of solar radiation reected the
ranking of the solar radiation models according to the overall
means of RMSE and to some extent I
rad
. The ranking of the
models according to the statistics used in the biomass
simulations and I
rad
, however, agreed well only for models
that didnot relativelyperformwell. The rankof the models that
performed well with respect to I
rad
was not reected in the
statistics used in the biomass simulation, but the difference in
the score of the statistics was small. Rivington et al. (2005)
suggestedthat the yearly individual indices of RRMSE, EF, R and
patternindices maybemoreindicativethantheoverall meanof
I
rad
since the accuracy and precision of daily weather values
becomes more important. But the yearly values of the above
indices gave little indication of the corresponding errors in the
total dry biomass simulations. This could be because the
statistical indices used in the evaluation of the solar radiation
models were calculated for the whole year but the statistics in
the biomass simulations were calculated only from part of the
year which was involved in growing the plant. The response of
the solar radiation model during the growing season may be
different compared to the whole year. Besides crop growth
models contain non-linear functions in which a certain change
ininput mayaffect theoutput differently. Ingeneral, themodels
with small I
rad
produced better simulations (small residuals)
and the models with large I
rad
produced worse simulations
(large residuals) although the exact rank of the models was not
reected in the biomass simulations for the models that
performed relatively well. The pattern of the mean daily errors
(Fig. 2), however, agreed well with the under and overestima-
tions of total dry biomass simulations, especially at Wagenin-
gen. Graphical presentationof thedistributionof themeandaily
errors, along with the I
rad
, makes the evaluation of the solar
radiationmodels easier. Ingeneral, I
rad
as ameans of evaluation
of solar radiation models for application in crop simulation
models was better in discriminating models that did not
relatively performwell. It was alsohelpful inindicating sites for
which the performance of the solar radiation models was good
or poor.
5. Conclusions
In the absence of solar radiation measurement data, reliable
estimates can be made from easily available meteorological
observations of air temperature and/or precipitationalong with
extraterrestrial radiation using several existing models. Com-
parison of the performance of the models using individual
statistical indicesprovedtobedifcult becauseof thenumber of
statistical indices considered and the contrasting results they
give. A model could be good according to one statistical index
but poor according to another index. Aggregation of the
statistical indices into a single modular indicator, I
rad
, using
the fuzzy-logic expert system enabled evaluation and ranking
of the solar radiationmodels performance. According to the I
rad
indicator, therewasnomodel whichconsistentlyoutperformed
a g r i c ul t ur a l a nd f or e s t me t e o r o l og y 1 4 8 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 4 0 1 4 1 6 413
the other models as some models made good estimates at one
site and poor at other sites. But the I
rad
was good in
discriminating models that relatively underperformed at all
sites. Overall, the DB and CD models were found to be best
estimators of solar radiation and the MH model the worst.
Graphical presentation of the mean uctuation of the errors
over a year also demonstrated the temporal behaviour of the
models in estimating solar radiation. Sites for which the solar
radiationmodelsresultedinrelativelygoodI
rad
valuesproduced
better simulations of grass ETo and total dry biomass that
matched the simulations from using inputs of observed solar
radiation. Ranking of the models according to the I
rad
and the
grass ETo and total dry biomass simulations agreed better for
models which relatively did not perform well. The ranking of
the models according to the RMSE in the grass ETo simulations
also agreed very well with the RRMSE (or RMSE) in the solar
radiation estimation. Comparison of the solar radiation
estimation models according to statistical indices used in the
solar radiation estimation and the total dry biomass simula-
tions was difcult because of the difference in the timescale
used in the indices calculation (overall mean or yearly in the
former case and seasonal in the latter). Although the ranks of
the relatively good performing models according to the I
rad
was
not reected in the grass ETo and total dry biomass simulation
exactly, the difference between the statistical indices used in
the grass ETo and total dry biomass simulation was small. The
graphical presentationof themeanuctuationof theerrorsalso
roughlyindicatedthe directionof theerrors ingrass EToor total
dry biomass simulation. In general, I
rad
was able to indicate
which solar radiation estimation model should be used for
application in crop simulation models.
Acknowledgements
Weather data for Cortez from Colorado Agricultural Meteor-
ological Network (COAGMET); for Davis from University of
California, Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM); for
Padova from University of Basilicata Viale Ateneo Lucano,
Potenza, Italy; for Rothamsted fromRothamstedResearch, UK;
for Wageningen from Wageningen University and Research
Center, Meteorology and Air Quality section, Wageningen, The
Netherlands; for Pretoria from South African Weather Service
(SAWS) Pretoria, South Africa; and for Grifth from CSIRO,
Land and Water, Grifth, Australia is gratefully acknowledged.
The paper beneted from the comments of the anonymous
reviewers.
Appendix A. Models for estimating daily solar
radiation from daily air temperature range and/or
precipitation
The BC, CD and DB models estimate daily solar radiation, I
s
(MJ m
2
), at the earths surface as:
I
s
tt
i
I
ex
(A1)
where tt
i
is the daily atmospheric transmission coefcient and
I
ex
(MJ m
2
) is the daily extraterrestrial solar radiation whichis
calculated based purely on solar geometry and the solar con-
stant (e.g., Swift, 1976; Campbell and Norman, 1998). The tt
i
part of Eq. (A1) is estimated by the BC, CD and DB models as
follows:
BC model (Bristow and Campbell, 1984):
tt
i
t 1 exp
b DT
i
c
DT
m
_ _ _ _
; (A2)
CD model (Donatelli and Campbell, 1998):
tt
i
t 1 exp b0:017expexp0:053T
avgi

DT
i
2
exp
T
ni
T
nc
_ _
_
_
_
_
_
_
_
_
_
_
_
_
_
_
_
_
_

_
_

_
; (A3)
DB model (Donatelli and Bellocchi, 2001):
tt
i
t 1 c
1
sin
i
r
p
180
c
2
_ _

i
r
p
180
f c
2

_ _ _ _
1 exp
b DT
i
2
DT
w
_ _ _ _
;
(A4)
f c
2
1 1:90c
2
intc
2
3:83c
2
intc
2

2
(A5)
where t is clear-sky atmospheric transmission coefcient, i is
day of year, b and c are the daily air temperature range coef-
cients, T
x(i)
and T
n(i)
(8C) are the daily maximum and minimum
air temperatures respectively, DT
i
(8C) = T
x(i)
(T
n(i)
+ T
n(i + 1)
)/2,
DT
m
(8C) is the xed monthly mean DT, T
nc
is the summer night
air temperature factor, T
avg(i)
(8C) = (T
x(i)
+ T
n(i)
)/2, i
r
is a reverse
option (i
r
= 1 for no reverse; i
r
= 361 i for reverse), c
1
and c
2
are
general seasonalityfactors, int(c
2
) istheinteger of c
2
andDT
w
(8C)
is the mobile weekly mean DT. On rainy days DT
i
is reduced by
25%, and if DT onthe day before rain occurred, DT
(i 1)
, was less
than DT
(i 2)
by 2 8C it was also reduced by 25% assuming that
cloudy conditions began on day (i 1) (Bristow and Campbell,
1984). Extended rain periods enable equilibration between
incomingsolar radiationandDTanddonot requireadjustments
(Bristow and Campbell, 1984). The T
nc
factor is meant to
prevent underestimation of solar radiation prediction during
summer that may be introduced due to higher T
n
. The BC, CD
and DB models are contained within the software RadEst tool
which is freely available via the website http://www.sipeaa.it/
tools.
Hgvs model (Hargreaves et al., 1985):
I
s
b
1
b
2

DT
i
_
I
ex
(A6)
where b
1
and b
2
are empirical coefcients and DT
(i)
=
T
x(i)
T
n(i)
.
HKS model (Hunt et al., 1998):
I
s
b
0
b
1
I
ex
DT
0:5
i
b
2
T
xi
b
3
PP
i
b
4
PP
i
2
(A7)
where b
0
, b
1
, b
2
, b
3
and b
4
are empirical coefcients, and PP
(mm) is the daily total precipitation.
MH model (Mahmood and Hubbard, 2002):
a g r i c ul t ur a l a nd f or e s t me t e o r o l og y 1 4 8 ( 2 0 0 8 ) 4 0 1 4 1 6 414
The MH model estimates daily incoming solar radiation
based on clear-sky solar radiation (I
cc
)calculated fromday of
year, maximum daylength for the year for a given latitude
following Cengiz et al. (1981):
I
s
b
0
DT
b1
i
I
b
2
cc
(A8)
where b
0
, b
1
and b
2
are empirical coefcients.
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