Comparison of Regression and Neural Networks Models to Estimate Solar Radiation
The incident solar radiation on soil is an important variable used in agricultural applications; it is also relevant in hydrology, meteorology and soil physics, among others. To estimate this variable, empirical models have been developed using several parameters and, recently, prognostic and prediction models based on artificial intelligence techniques such as neural networks. The aim of this work was to develop linear models and neural networks, multilayer perceptron, to estimate daily global solar radiation and compare their efficiency in its application to a region of the Province of Salta, Argentina. Relative sunshine duration, maximum and minimum temperature, rainfall, binary rainfall and extraterrestrial solar radiation data for the period 1996-2002, were used. All data were supplied by Experimental Station Salta, Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA), Argentina. For both, neural networks models and linear regressions, three alternative combinations of meteorological parameters were considered. Good results with both prediction methods were obtained, with root mean square error (RMSE) values between 1.99 and 1.66 MJ m-2 d-1 for linear regressions and neural networks, and coefficients of correlation (r²) between 0.88 and 0.92, respectively. Even though neural networks and linear regression models can be used to predict the daily global solar radiation appropriately, neural networks produced better estimates.