Diffuse radiation and cloud fraction relationships in two contrasting Amazonian rainforest sites

Nathalie Butt, Mark New, Yadvinder Malhi, Antonio Carlos Lola da Costa, Paulo Oliveira, Javier Eduardo Silva-Espejo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Along with total radiation received, the proportion of diffuse to direct solar radiation can influence forest photosynthesis and carbon cycling. However, tropical diffuse radiation regimes are poorly described, and to date there are few or no site-based or regional diffuse radiation datasets. The relationship between cloud fraction and diffuse solar radiation was investigated using data from two sites in western and eastern Amazonia. Radiation regimes for diffuse and total radiation were characterised for each site, and the variation in clear sky diffuse radiation fraction between wet and dry season demonstrated and quantified, as well as the dependence of diffuse radiation on cloud amount. Using high frequency measurements of diffuse and total solar radiation data from the two sites, and estimated top of the canopy clear-sky radiation, a number of alternative models to predict diffuse radiation fraction from cloud fraction were formulated and tested. Results showed that cloud fraction can be approximated using the relationship between observed and calculated top of canopy radiation, after which diffuse radiation can then be predicted from cloud fraction. We also demonstrate that satellite cloud data (from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project) can be used as inputs to the diffuse radiation model to provide estimates of annual and monthly diffuse radiation proportion. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-368
Number of pages8
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2010


  • Amazon
  • Solar radiation
  • Tropical forest
  • Cloud fraction
  • Diffuse radiation

Cite this