Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2014, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (6): 980-992.doi: 10.1007/s11442-014-1132-0

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Influence of complex topography on global solar radiation in the Yangtze River Basin

Li WANG(), Xinfa QIU, Peifa WANG, Xiaoying WANG, Aili LIU   

  1. School of Remote Sensing, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
  • Received:2014-05-09 Accepted:2014-08-10 Online:2014-06-20 Published:2014-06-20
  • About author:

    Wang Li (1979-), PhD Candidate and Lecturer, specialized in 3S integration and application in meteorology or hydrology. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41175077.National Natural Science Foundation for Young Scholars, No.S0508016001.Guizhou Branch Major Projects [2011], No.6003


Global solar radiation (GSR) is the most direct source and form of global energy, and calculation of its quantity is highly complex due to influences of local topography and terrain inter-shielding. Digital elevation model (DEM) data as a representation of the complex terrain and multiplicity condition produces a series of topographic factors (e.g. slope, aspect, etc.). Based on 1 km resolution DEM data, meteorological observations and NOAA-AVHRR remote sensing data, a distributed model for the calculation of GSR over rugged terrain within the Yangtze River Basin has been developed. The overarching model permits calculation of astronomical solar radiation for rugged topography and comprises a distributed direct solar radiation model, a distributed diffuse radiation model and a distributed terrain reflectance radiation model. Using the developed model, a quantitative simulation of the GSR space distribution and visualization has been undertaken, with results subsequently analyzed with respect to locality and terrain. Analyses suggest that GSR magnitude is seasonally affected, while the degree of influence was found to increase in concurrence with increasing altitude. Moreover, GSR magnitude exhibited clear spatial variation with respect to the dominant local aspect; GSR values associated with the sunny southern slopes were significantly greater than those associated with shaded slopes. Error analysis indicates a mean absolute error of 12.983 MJm-2 and a mean relative error of 3.608%, while the results based on a site authentication procedure display an absolute error of 22.621 MJm-2 and a relative error of 4.626%.

Key words: rugged terrain, global solar radiation (GSR), distributed model, Digital Elevation Model, Yangtze River Basin