The Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN) provides near-continuous, long-term, in situ, Earth-surface, broadband irradiances (solar and thermal infrared), and certain related parameters from a network of more than 50 globally diverse sites. The observed data are collected, processed, and reviewed by the individual sites’ scientists, and subsequently provided to the Network's central data archive and dissemination center, the World Radiation Monitoring Center (WRMC), located at the Alfred Wagner Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven, Germany.
BSRN closely links to NDACC in that atmospheric composition is a primary determinant of the non-geometric variability of the surface-received irradiances observed by BSRN. BSRN encourages, but does not require, nearby simultaneous observations of aerosol optical depth, water vapor, and ozone at its sites. Some sites overlap between the two networks, but most do not.
The BSRN was conceived and implemented in the late 1980s by the World Climate Research Program (WCRP, sponsored by WMO, ICSU, and IOC), with the collected data intended to be utilized for climate research applications; in particular, satellite product validation, climate model comparisons, and establishment of regional radiation climatologies, all in support of Earth radiation budget studies. In the mid 1990s, BSRN was included under the WCRP program called The Global Energy and Water Experiment (GEWEX). By the late 1990s, BSRN was designated as a contributing network the WMO Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) Programme, III-6 and in the early 2000s was designated as the Global Baseline Surface Radiation Network of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS).
Irradiance data collected and provided by the BSRN derive from instrumentation and operating practices that fulfill specifications developed by BSRN that are intended to provide the highest possible quality data from remote, continuously operated field sites. Each participating site has a designated Site Scientist, who is responsible for the operation of the site and the quality of the final data product submitted to the central archive at AWI.
To fulfill its institutional obligations to respond to the broader climate/scientific community, BSRN reports and answers annually to the GEWEX Radiation Panel, currently chaired by Prof. Christian Kummerow, and the GCOS/Atmospheric Observations Panel for Climate (AOPC) chaired by Dr. Adrian Simmons. Dr. Joseph Michalsky (NOAA) provides the overall international management of the BSRN. The AWI BSRN Archive (also called the World Radiation Monitoring Center) is under the direction of Dr. Holger Schmithüsen. All data are interactively available for any scientist who accepts the data release guidelines.
BSRN sites are typically sponsored by the host country's national government or, in some cases, other public or private institutions. The sites; participation in BSRN is generally considered part of the countries’ contribution and obligation to the UN and other international sponsoring organizations.
Ohmura, A., E. G. Dutton, B. Forgan and 12 co-authors, 1998: Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN)/WCRP): New precision radiometry for climate research. Bull. Amer. Meteoro. Soc. 79, 2115- 2136.
König-Langlo, G. , Sieger, R. , Schmithüsen, H. , Bücker, A. , Richter, F. and Dutton E.G. 2013: The Baseline Surface Radiation Network and Its World Radiation Monitoring Centre at the Alfred Wegener Institute. www.wmo.int/pages/prog/gcos/Publications/gcos-174.pdf.