The Medium-Resolution Spectral Imager (MERSI) is one of the major payloads of China’s second-generation polar-orbiting meteorological satellite, FengYun-3 (FY-3), and it is similar to the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). The MERSI data are suitable for mapping terrestrial, atmospheric and oceanographic variables at continental to global scales. This study presents a direct-estimation method to retrieve surface shortwave net radiation (SSNR) data from MERSI top-of-atmosphere (TOA) reflectance and cloud mask products. This study is the first attempt to use the MERSI to retrieve SSNR data. Several critical issues concerning remote sensing of SSNR were investigated, including scale effects in validating SSNR data, impacts of the MERSI calibration update on the estimation of SSNR and the dependency of the retrieval accuracy of SSNR data on view geometry. We also incorporated data from twin MODIS sensors to assess how time and the number of satellite overpasses affect the retrieval of SSNR data. Validation against one-year data over seven Surface Radiation Budget Network (SURFRAD) stations showed that the presented algorithm estimated daily SSNR at the original resolution of the MERSI with a root mean square error (RMSE) of 41.9 W/m2
and a bias of −1.6 W/m2
. Aggregated to a spatial resolution of 161 km, the RMSE of MERSI retrievals can be reduced by approximately 10 W/m2
. Combined with MODIS data, the RMSE of daily SSNR estimation can be further reduced to 22.2 W/m2
. Compared with that of daily SSNR, estimation of monthly SSNR is less affected by the number of satellite overpasses per day. The RMSE of monthly SSNR from a single MERSI sensor is as small as 13.5 W/m2
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