Discover the Solar Radiation Sensors Trusted by Mexico's Scientists

Mexico exhibits virtually every known climatic condition on Earth, with its two million square kilometers home to tropical jungles, glaciers, prairies and hot and arid deserts.

The Meteorología of Servicio Meteorológico Nacional (SMN) is an organization tasked with monitoring and analyzing this large, complex system of meteorological parameters.

solar radiation sensors

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Wangkun Jia

Analyzing and predicting climatic changes requires much more comprehensive data than basic information on temperature and precipitation. For example, solar radiation must be measured in modern meteorological networks due to its tangible influence on weather and climate and its impact on many processes in the atmosphere and on the Earth’s surface.

Solar radiation is also a factor in the work of many agronomists, biologists, architects, physicists, material scientists, and public health professionals.

Discover the Many Weather Systems of Mexico

Image Credit: OTT HydroMet

All these professionals require solar radiation data as part of their work and research. The importance of solar radiation data is also of growing interest due to the more widespread implementation of renewable energy sources.

SMN operates a wide-ranging network of Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) across the whole of Mexico’s territory. Each of these 136 weather stations features a Kipp & Zonen CMP 11 pyranometer which is used to measure global horizontal solar irradiance.

Data from the AWS is sent every 10 minutes via the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES). This satellite is operated by the USA-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Sensors must be routinely and carefully calibrated to ensure this network and its valuable data continue to reliably function.

The Secretaría de Energía de México (SENER) recently funded a calibration and maintenance project focused on this national network of pyranometers. The goal of this project is to facilitate a reliable assessment of the country’s solar energy resources.

Discover the Many Weather Systems of Mexico

Image Credit: OTT HydroMet

This ground data is also employed in the fine-tuning of various radiative transfer models suitable for analyzing data acquired via meteorological satellite images.

Pyranometer calibration is undertaken by the Solar Radiation Section (SRS) of the Instituto de Geofísica of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) based close to Mexico City.

The Section is one of the three Regional Radiation Centers of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for Region IV (North America, Central America, and the Caribbean). It boasts more than 50 years of experience in measuring solar radiation.

SRS’s team of specialists is responsible for preventive and corrective maintenance and calibration of the full range of CMP 11 pyranometers in the SMN AWS network. This calibration is conducted in line with the international standard ISO-9846:1993 Solar energy - Calibration of a pyranometer using a pyrheliometer.

SRS uses a reference Eppley HF absolute cavity radiometer (ACR) for this task – a tool routinely used in the International Pyrheliometer Comparisons (IPC) at the World Radiation Center in Davos, Switzerland.

The reference absolute cavity radiometer’s calibration is transferred to a reference pyranometer via a SOLYS 2 sun tracker. This is done in line with the ISO-9846:1993 ‘sun-shade’ method.

This method necessitates a series of lengthy observations during highly specific environmental conditions, including clear skies and a stable atmosphere. These circumstances dictate the site and season where the calibration will take place.

Once calibrated, this reference pyranometer will be exclusively employed in calibrating the SNM network’s field pyranometers. This guarantees absolute traceability of the field pyranometer calibration and its adherence to the World Radiation Reference (WRR).

Discover the Many Weather Systems of Mexico

Image Credit: OTT HydroMet

Acknowledgments

Produced from materials originally authored by Ing. Víctor L. Hernández, Director de la División de Meteorología, Rossbach de México.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by OTT HydroMet. Kipp & Zonen is one of OTT HydroMet's brands for comprehensive environmental monitoring.

For more information on this source, please visit OTT HydroMet.

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