Besides 2 m - temperature and precipitation, sunshine duration is one of the most important and commonly used parameter in climatology, with measured time series of partly more than 100 years in length. EUMETSAT’s Satellite Application Facility on Climate Monitoring (CM SAF) presents a climate data record for daily and monthly sunshine duration (SDU) for Europe and Africa. Basis for the advanced retrieval is a highly resolved satellite product of the direct solar radiation from measurements by Meteosat satellites 2 to 10. The data record covers the time period 1983 to 2015 with a spatial resolution of 0.05° × 0.05°. The comparison against ground-based data shows high agreement but also some regional differences. Sunshine duration is overestimated by the satellite-based data in many regions, compared to surface data. In West and Central Africa, low clouds seem to be the reason for a stronger overestimation of sunshine duration in this region (up to 20% for monthly sums). For most stations, the overestimation is low, with a bias below 7.5 h for monthly sums and below 0.4 h for daily sums. A high correlation of 0.91 for daily SDU and 0.96 for monthly SDU also proved the high agreement with station data. As SDU is based on a stable and homogeneous climate data record of more than 30 years length, it is highly suitable for climate applications, such as trend estimates.
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