Crop monitoring systems that rely on agrometeorologic models require estimates of global radiation. These estimates are difficult to obtain due to the limited number of weather stations that measure this variable. In the present study, we validated the global radiation estimates derived from MeteoSat Second Generation (MSG) and evaluated their use in the European Crop Growth Monitoring System (CGMS). A validation with measurements from four CarboEurope flux towers showed that the MSG estimates are accurate and unbiased (standard deviation between 30 and 51 W/m2). Moreover, a comparison with global radiation estimates from about 300 operational weather stations throughout Europe confirmed that the quality of the MSG product is high and spatially uniform. We also made an intercomparison between the MSG product and the ECMWF (ERA-INTERIM) and CGMS products at 25 km resolution, thus demonstrating that the CGMS and ECMWF products generally underestimate radiation. Nevertheless, the CGMS product showed irregular spatial patterns of local over- and underestimation, while the ECMWF product consistently underestimated. A trend analysis using a seasonal Mann-Kendall test between 2005 and 2009 did not reveal any significant monotonic trends in the MSG radiation estimates, except for 1 location out of 15. Finally, when we applied the WOFOST crop model for maize throughout Europe, the simulated potential total biomass increased due to higher estimates of global radiation made by MSG. In contrast, the water-limited simulated total-biomass generally decreased due to a higher reference evapotranspiration, causing faster depletion of soil moisture and increased water stress.
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