1.4 Using Diurnal Temperature Range to Examine the Climatology of Solar Energy Potential

Monday, 11 January 2016: 2:15 PM
Room 346/347 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Colton Zercher, Lyndon State College, Lyndonville, VT; and S. Y. Murphy, J. Hanrahan, and J. C. Shafer

The potential for annual solar energy production largely depends on the amount of incoming shortwave radiation which is highly dependent on cloud cover. Due to natural large-scale climate variability, long-term cloud cover can vary substantially, therefore modifying the total energy that can be produced by solar. Under anthropogenic climate change, future precipitation is expected to significantly deviate from observed values, therefore suggesting that cloud cover, and thus solar energy potential, will also change. The expected changes are both positive and negative depending on geographic region and can be highly spatially variable, particularly in regions of complex terrain. Because of the short-term availability of observed radiation and cloud cover data, it is difficult to study the historical climatology of solar energy potential, thus making future projections uncertain. Research has shown that another readily available climate variable, the diurnal temperature range, correlates well with daily averaged shortwave radiation values during months of minimal/no snow cover, and can thus serve as a proxy for shortwave radiation during the warm season throughout the period of record. In the present study, the diurnal temperature range is shown to be an excellent predictor of shortwave radiation around the state of Vermont, independent of latitude and elevation. Monte Carlo significance testing is also used to examine recent trends in this region.
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