Acronyms, terminology, and units

Last update: Sept. 2016

Acronyms

(in alphabetic order)

Acronyms   Definition
BHI Beam (or Direct) Horizontal Irradiation
DHI Diffuse Horizontal Irradiation
GHI Global Horizontal Irradiation
HRV High Resolution Visible. Panchromatic (=broadband) channel of Seviri (Meteosat) instrument, corresponding to a silicon response, about 0.4-1.1 µm.
IR Infra Red
MSG Meteosat Second Generation
SoDa Solar Radiation Data. Originally a European project which ended in 2003, leading to the SoDa Service, populated by many different resources and databases, and now represented by 3 websites:
UV index for human health only. Its definition is closely related to the erythemal answer of the skin of the population (most of the time caucasian type).
UV radiation for plants, material aging... which corresponds to a particular range of the light spectra.
WV Water Vapor

Top of page

Terminology: Irradiance and Irradiation

Publications: ESRA (2000) and Dogniaux et al. (1984).

Irradiation is the energy received per area. It is expressed in J m-2 (joule per square meter). The International Solar Energy Society recommends the symbol H. Other units are J cm-2 (joule per square centimeter) and Wh m-2 (watt-hour per square meter) though the latter should not be used as it does not belong to the standard unit system (S.I., International System). See conversion factors.

Irradiance is defined as a power received per area. It is expressed in W m-2 (watt per square meter). The S.I. (International System) recommends the symbol E.

Irradiance and irradiation values stand for area densities, i.e. no subscripts are used to indicate the surface area. All symbols refer to horizontal planes; for a tilted plane, the slope β (beta) and the plane azimuth α (alpha) are added in brackets.
Subscript 0 stands for extraterrestrial or astronomical.
Subscript h stands for hourly and subcript d for daily.

The conversion from irradiation (energy) into irradiance (power) is performed by dividing irradiation by the duration of the measurement. Reciprocally, irradiance is converted into irradiation by multiplying by a time duration.

Convert from Into Divide by
Hourly irradiation in J/m2 (including time averaged values, e.g., monthly means, yearly means etc.) irradiance in W/m2 3600 (number of seconds in an hour)
Hourly irradiation in Wh/m2 (including time averaged values, e.g., monthly means, yearly means etc.) 1
Daily irradiation in J/m2 (including time averaged values, e.g., monthly means, yearly means etc.) 86400 = 24 * 3600 (number of seconds in a day)
Daily irradiation in Wh/m2 (including time averaged values, e.g., monthly means, yearly means etc.) 24 (number of hours in a day)

To convert 10-days sums of irradiation, or monthly sums or yearly sums or similar quantities, into irradiance, convert them first to averaged values by dividing them by the duration of the observation (e.g., 10 days, 28 or 30 or 31 days, 365 or 366 days). Then use the table above.

Top of page

Units

International system of units

The International System of Units, abbreviated SI (from the French Système International), is the internationally-agreed system of measurement.

Angles: Plane angles are expressed in radian (rad), or degrees, or sexagesimal degrees (degrees, minutes, seconds).
Energy: Energy, work, quantity of heat are expressed in Joule (J). It can be expressed by unit of surface: J/m2, J/cm2. Irradiation is the energy received per area. Other units are Wh (Watt hour), calorie, therm, Langley.
Power: Power, radiant flux are expressed in Watt (W). Irradiance is defined as a power received per area; it is expressed in W m-2 (watt per square meter).
Pressure: Pressure is expressed in Pascal (Pa). In meteorology, the unit hPa (hecto-Pascal) is commonly used; it is 100 times a Pascal. It replaces the millibar unit and they are equivalent. Another unit is the "atmosphere".

Top of page

Conversion factors

Angles:

Convert from Into Multiply by
degrees (°) radians (rad) 1.745329 E-02
radians (rad) degrees (°) 57.29578
minutes (') degrees (°) 0.0167
seconds (") degrees (°) 1.6667 E-04
degrees, minutes, seconds degrees with decimals degrees + minutes/60 + seconds/3600

 

Energy / Power:

Convert from Into Multiply by
calorie (cal) Joule (J) 4.1868
Watt second (W s) Joule (J) 1
Watt hour (Wh) Joule (J) 3.6 E+03
Joule (J) calorie (cal) 0.2388
Joule (J) Watt hour (Wh) 0.2778 E-03
therm (Europe) Joule (J) 1.05506 E+08
Watt hour per square meter (Wh / m2) Joule per square centimeter (J / cm2) 0.36
Joule per square centimeter (J / cm2) Watt hour per square meter (Wh / m2) 2.778
Joule per square meter (J / m2) Watt hour per square meter (Wh / m2) 0.2778 E-03
Langley (Ly) Wh / m2 11.6
Langley (Ly) J / m2 41.84 E+03
kLy / year W / m2 1.33

Example of conversion from Wh to J: Let's admit that the energy is 6.5 Wh. In J, E would write 6.5 Wh x 3600 J/(Wh) = 23400 J = 23.4 kJ

Pressure:

Convert from Into Multiply by
atmosphere standard (atm) Pascal (Pa) 1.01325 E+05
atmosphere standard (atm) hecto-Pascal (hPa) 1.01325 E+03
Pascal (Pa) atmosphere standard 0.98692 E-05

 

 

Input Parameters Launch service Output Parameters
° ' " °
° ° ' "

Top of page