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Solar dimming/brightening effect over the Mediterranean1979 − 2012

Written by H.D. Kambezidisa, D.G. Kaskaoutisa, et al.

Abstract: Numerous studies have shown that the solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface is subjected to multi-decadal variations with significant spatial and temporal heterogeneities in both magnitude and sign. Although several studies have examined the solar radiation trends over Europe, North America and Asia, the Mediterranean Basin has not been studied extensively.


This work investigates the evolution and trends in the surface net short-wave radiation (NSWR, surface solar radiation – reflected) over the Mediterranean Basin during the period 1979 − 2012 using monthly re-analysis datasets from the Modern Era Retrospective-Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) and aims to shed light on the specific role of clouds on the NSWR trends.

The solar dimming/brightening phenomenon is temporally and spatially analyzed over the Mediterranean Basin. The spatially-averaged NSWR over the whole Mediterranean Basin was found to increase in MERRA by +0.36 Wm−2 per decade, with higher rates over the western Mediterranean (+0.82 Wm−2 per decade), and especially during spring (March-April-May; +1.3 Wm−2 per decade). However, statistically significant trends in NSWR either for all-sky or clean-sky conditions are observed only in May.

The increasing trends in NSWR are mostly associated with decreasing ones in cloud optical depth (COD), especially for the low (<700 hPa) clouds. The decreasing COD trends (less opaque clouds and/or decrease in absolute cloudiness) are more pronounced during spring, thus controlling the increasing tendency in NSWR.

The NSWR trends for cloudless (clear) skies are influenced by changes in the water-vapor content or even variations in surface albedo to a lesser degree, whereas aerosols are temporally constant in MERRA. The slight negative trend (not statistically significant) in NSWR under clear skies for nearly all months and seasons implies a slight increasing trend in water vapor under a warming and more humid climatic scenario over the Mediterranean.

Read more at www.sciencedirect.com