Deriving the slope-mean shielded astronomical solar radiation spectrum and slope-mean possible sunshine duration spectrum over the Loess Plateau

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Solar radiation is often shielded by terrain relief, especially in mountainous areas, before reaching the surface of the Earth. The objective of this paper is to study the spatial structures of the shielded astronomical solar radiation (SASR) and the possible sunshine duration (PSD) over the Loess Plateau. To this end, we chose six test areas representing different landforms over the Loess Plateau and the software package of Matlab was used as the main computing platform. In each test area, 5-m-resolution digital elevation model established from 1:10,000 scale topographic maps was used to compute the corresponding slope, SASR and PSD. Then, we defined the concepts of the slope-mean SASR spectrum and the slope-mean PSD spectrum, and proposed a method to extract them from the computed slope, SASR and PSD over rectangular analysis windows. Using this method, we found both spectrums in a year or in a season for each of the four seasons in the six test areas. Each spectrum was found only when the area of the corresponding rectangular analysis window was greater than the corresponding stable area of the spectrum. The values of the two spectrums decreased when the slope increased. Furthermore, the values of the stable areas of the spectrums in a year or in a season were positively correlated with the variable coefficients of the slope or the profile curvature. The values of the stable areas of the two spectrums in a year or in a season may represent the minimum value of test areas for corresponding future research on the spatial structures of the SASR or PSD. All the findings herein suggest that the spatial structures of the PSD and the SASR are caused by the interactions between solar radiation and terrain relief and that the method for extracting either spectrum is effective for detecting their spatial structures. This study may deepen our understanding of the spatial structure of solar radiation and help us further explore the distribution of solar energy in mountainous regions.

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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41771423, 41930102, 41601408 and 41491339) and by the industry-university-research cooperation project for the social development of Fujian province, China (grant number 2018Y0054). The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments; the author also expresses sincere thanks to his students, ZHOU Wen-zhen, LI Huan-ge, LI Quan-jin and LIN Ting-min for retouching the figures.

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Correspondence to Nan Chen.

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Chen, N. Deriving the slope-mean shielded astronomical solar radiation spectrum and slope-mean possible sunshine duration spectrum over the Loess Plateau. J. Mt. Sci. 17, 133–146 (2020).

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  • Digital elevation model
  • Shielded extraterrestrial solar radiation
  • Spectrum
  • Possible Sunshine duration
  • Slope
  • Loess Plateau