The observational data used in this study are retrieved from a database containing the world-wide instrumentally measured surface energy fluxes, the Global Energy Balance Archive (GEBA, Ohmura et al., 1989; Gilgen et al., 1998). This database currently possesses 220,000 monthly mean fluxes for approximately 1600 sites and has been used in a number of studies to assess model-calculated and satellite derived estimates of surface energy fluxes (e.g., Garratt, 1994; Li et al., 1995; Wild et al., 1995a, 1995b, 1997, 1998; Konzelmann et al., 1996; Rossow and Zhang, 1995). Gilgen et al. (1998) estimated the relative random error (root mean square error / mean) of the incoming short-wave radiation values in the GEBA at 5% for the monthly means and 2% for annual means.
The satellite climatologies of the radiative fluxes at the top-of-atmosphere (TOA) are ensemble averages from the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE, Barkstrom, 1990) over the period 1985-1989, with a resolution of 2.5° x 2.5°. The uncertainties in the monthly averaged scanner data are estimated within
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