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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 483679, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/483679
Research Article

Trends in Downward Solar Radiation at the Surface over North America from Climate Model Projections and Implications for Solar Energy

School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA

Received 1 May 2014; Accepted 6 August 2014

Academic Editor: Taewoo Lee

Copyright © 2015 Gerardo Andres Saenz and Huei-Ping Huang. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The projected changes in the downward solar radiation at the surface over North America for late 21st century are deduced from global climate model simulations with greenhouse-gas (GHG) forcing. A robust trend is found in winter over the United States, which exhibits a simple pattern of a decrease of sunlight over Northern USA. and an increase of sunlight over Southern USA. This structure was identified in both the seasonal mean and the mean climatology at different times of the day. It is broadly consistent with the known poleward shift of storm tracks in winter in climate model simulations with GHG forcing. The centennial trend of the downward shortwave radiation at the surface in Northern USA. is on the order of 10% of the climatological value for the January monthly mean, and slightly over 10% at the time when it is midday in the United States. This indicates a nonnegligible influence of the GHG forcing on solar energy in the long term. Nevertheless, when dividing the 10% by a century, in the near term, the impact of the GHG forcing is relatively minor such that the estimate of solar power potential using present-day climatology will remain useful in the coming decades.