An extract on #sunshine
Sunshine duration is usually expressed in hours per year, or in (average) hours per day. The first measure indicates the general sunniness of a location compared with other places, while the latter allows for comparison of sunshine in various seasons in the same location. Another often-used measure is percentage ratio of recorded bright sunshine duration and daylight duration in the observed period.
An important use of sunshine duration data is to characterize the climate of sites, especially of health resorts. This also takes into account the psychological effect of strong solar light on human well-being. It is often used to promote tourist destinations.
If the Sun were to be above the horizon 50% of the time for a standard year consisting of 8,760 hours, apparent maximal daytime duration would be 4,380 hours for any point on Earth. However, there are physical and astronomical effects that change that picture. Namely, atmospheric refraction allows the Sun to be still visible even when it physically sets below the horizon. For that reason, average daytime (disregarding cloud effects) is longest in polar areas, where the apparent Sun spends the most time around the horizon. Places on the Arctic Circle have the longest total annual daytime, 4,647 hours, while the North Pole receives 4,575. Because of elliptic nature of the Earth's orbit, the Southern Hemisphere is not symmetrical: the Antarctic Circle, with 4,530 hours of daylight, receives five days less of sunshine than its antipodes. The Equator has a total daytime of 4,422 hours per year.
Given the theoretical maximum of daytime duration for a given location, there is also a practical consideration at which point the amount of daylight is sufficient to be treated as a "sunshine hour". "Bright" sunshine hours represent the total hours when the sunlight is stronger than a specified threshold, as opposed to just "visible" hours. "Visible" sunshine, for example, occurs around sunrise and sunset, but is not strong enough to excite the sensor. Measurement is performed by instruments called sunshine recorders. For the specific purpose of sunshine duration recording, CampbellStokes recorders are used, which use a spherical glass lens to focus the sun rays on a specially designed tape. When the intensity exceeds a pre-determined threshold, the tape burns. The total length of the burn trace is proportional to the number of bright hours. Another type of recorder is the Jordan sunshine recorder. Newer, electronic recorders have more stable sensitivity than that of the paper tape.
In order to harmonize the data measured worldwide, in 1962 the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) defined a standardized design of the CampbellStokes recorder, called an Interim Reference Sunshine Recorder (IRSR). In 2003, the sunshine duration was finally defined as the period during which direct solar irradiance exceeds a threshold value of 120 W/m.