NOAA Network Information Manual

An essential ingredient in developing and commercializing solar energy technology is the information on the solar energy resource, specifically, the amount of energy a user can expect from the Sun. To ensure that this need is fulfilled, the Department of Energy (DOE) has established many programs in cooperation with other Federal agencies, industry, state governments, R&D companies, and academic institutions. This publication reports the efforts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA and its predecessor agencies, the Environmental Science Services Administration and the Weather Bureau, have had the Federal civilian responsibilities for monitoring and documenting the climate of the United States, including solar radiation and many other weather elements required by the solar energy technology user. The solar radiation monitoring network has existed for about 75 years with varying numbers of stations. In the 1960's about 60 NOAA stations and 30 cooperative stations were reporting solar radiation data to the National Climatic Center (NCC) in Asheville, N.C. In addition, State, local, and private organizations were making measurements with varying degrees of regularity and quality. These non-NOAA networks continue and, if anything, have increased in number, and with DOE help some of their data will be archived and published by the NCC.

Data Centers

The current network consists of 39 stations of which 35 are in the contiguous U.S. The remaining four are in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam. All stations are equipped to operate both a pyranometer and pyrheliometer.

National Weather Service, NOAA

Solar Radiation Network Stations

Station Name Latitude
Fairbanks, AK 64.82 147.87 143
Montgomery, AL 32.30 86.40 68
Phoenix, AZ 33.43 112.02 339
Fresno, CA 36.77 119.72 102
Los Angeles, CA 33.93 118.40 36
Boulder, CO 40.10 105.25 1634
Grand Junction, CO 39.12 108.53 1473
Miami, FL 25.82 80.28 8
Tallahassee, FL 30.38 84.37 18
Honolulu, HI 21.32 157.92 2
Boise, ID 43.57 116.22 873
Indianapolis, IN 39.73 86.27 244
Dodge City, KS 37.77 99.97 795
Lake Charles, LA 30.12 93.22 19
Blue Hill, MA 42.22 71.12 200
Caribou, ME 46.87 68.02 195
Columbia, MO 38.82 92.22 277
Great Falls, MT 47.50 111.37 1125
Raleigh, NC 35.87 78.78 137
Bismark, ND 46.77 100.77 511
Omaha, NE 41.37 96.02 404
Albuquerque, NM 35.03 106.62 1623
Ely, NV 39.28 114.85 1912
Las Vegas, NV 36.08 115.17 661
Medford, OR 42.37 122.87 412
Pittsburgh, PA 40.50 80.22 371
Nashville, TN 36.12 86.68 186
Brownsville, TX 25.90 97.43 12
El Paso, TX 31.80 106.40 1206
Midland, TX 31.95 102.18 872
Salt Lake City, UT 40.77 111.97 1288
Sterling, VA 38.98 77.47 87
Burlington, VT 44.47 73.15 112
Seattle-Tacoma, WA 47.45 122.30 143
Madison, WI 43.13 89.33 271
Lander, WY 42.82 108.73 1699
Guam, Marianas Isl. 13.45 144.68 111
San Juan, PR 18.43 66.00 19
Desert Rock, NV 36.62 -116.02 1007

Map of Solar Radiation Network Stations

In the early 1980's minute-by-minute readings were logged, in recent years only integrated hourly measurements were recorded. The operationally easier hourly readings will be continued into the future. These station records were subjected to excellent quality assurance by EDIS until several years ago when funding ran out. No quality assurance is now applied resulting in questionable data. The sensors were and are calibrated by ARA/ERL Boulder periodically and for special times when problems arise. This facility will continue. The data are archived and made available to the user community through NESDIS in Asheville, NC on conventional tapes paid for by the purchaser.

The useful lifetime of the solar radiation monitoring data acquisition systems and the direct beam solar trackers has passed, requiring their replacement with modern day equiptment.

Rationale For The Proposed Network

A NOAA ground level solar radiation monitoring network is not the only way of documenting the time and space statistics of the solar radiation reaching the ground. Other sources of such data are:

1. Other state, local, university, and private industry measurements and networks.

2. Inferred ground level solar radiation from satellite measurements of clouds, ozone, etc.

3. Computed (via atmospheric transmission theory and cloud cover or sunshine data) values.

  The Standard Broadband Format Manual
  inlcudes descriptions of the format employed
  in the NOAA solar data files.

Return to RREDC Home Page ( )