Satellite-derived surface solar radiation estimates are an alternative to the solar radiation measured at weather stations or modelled from other measured meteorological variables. The advantage of satellite-derived solar radiation is its high spatial and temporal resolution in comparison with solar radiation derived from weather stations, which has to be spatially interpolated. Solar radiation estimates at approximately 3–5 km resolution derived from geostationary Meteosat satellites are available for Europe through the EUMETSAT Satellite Application Facilities (SAFs). The SAF responsible for land monitoring (LSA-SAF) has been providing daily solar radiation estimates in near real-time since 2005. The SAF on climate monitoring (CM-SAF) provided a 23-year long (1983–2005) consistent dataset of daily solar radiation. In this study we examine if these two solar radiation datasets may effectively be merged to generate a long-term gridded solar radiation time series for Europe. Further, we evaluate whether the ERA-Interim reanalysis or interpolated measured solar radiation (JRC-MARS) can be used as a replacement for existing and possible future data gaps in the satellite-based dataset. We show that the root mean square error and mean absolute error of LSA-SAF’s and the CM-SAF’s solar radiation estimates are similar (p < 0.05), calculated against measured solar radiation data. A grid-based comparison of LSA-SAF’s and CM-SAF’s datasets showed an average root mean square difference over Europe of 2 MJ m−2 and a mean difference of 0.37 MJ m−2. For replacing data gaps in satellite-based radiation, we recommend the use of the ERA-Interim reanalysis data; they correspond better to both the ground reference and satellite-derived solar radiation data as compared to interpolated JRC-MARS. We conclude that both satellite-based products can be concatenated to create long-term gridded time series of solar radiation for Europe.
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