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r.sunmask(1grass) GRASS GIS User's Manual r.sunmask(1grass)


r.sunmask - Calculates cast shadow areas from sun position and elevation raster map.
Either exact sun position (A) is specified, or date/time to calculate the sun position (B) by r.sunmask itself.


raster, solar, sun position, shadow


r.sunmask --help
r.sunmask [-zsg] elevation=name [output=name] [altitude=float] [azimuth=float] [year=integer] [month=integer] [day=integer] [hour=integer] [minute=integer] [second=integer] [timezone=integer] [east=value] [north=value] [--overwrite] [--help] [--verbose] [--quiet] [--ui]


Do not ignore zero elevation

Calculate sun position only and exit

Print the sun position output in shell script style

Allow output files to overwrite existing files

Print usage summary

Verbose module output

Quiet module output

Force launching GUI dialog


Name of input elevation raster map

Name for output raster map

Altitude of the sun in degrees above the horizon (A)
Options: 0-89.999

Azimuth of the sun in degrees from north (A)
Options: 0-360

Year (B)
Options: 1950-2050

Month (B)
Options: 0-12

Day (B)
Options: 0-31

Hour (B)
Options: 0-24

Minutes (B)
Options: 0-60

Seconds (B)
Options: 0-60
Default: 0

East positive, offset from GMT, also use to adjust daylight savings

Easting coordinate (point of interest)
Default: map center

Northing coordinate (point of interest)
Default: map center


r.sunmask creates an output map layer based on an input elevation raster map layer and the sun position. The output map layer contains the cast shadow areas arising from sun shine and elevations. The user can define the sun position either directly or the module calculates it from given location and date/time parameters using the NREL sun position algorithm. So either "A:"-parameters to specify the exact known sun position or "B:-parameters" to specify date/time for sun position calculation by r.sunmask itself have to be used.

The module performs sunset/sunrise checks and refraction correction for sun position calculation. Local coordinate systems are internally transformed to latitude/longitude for the SOLPOS algorithm. The elevation is not considered in the sunset/sunrise calculations.


r.sunmask and daylight savings: Rather than converting the local time to GMT, the SOLPOS algorithm uses what is called Local Standard Time, which is generally politically defined as an offset from GMT. So the key is the offset from GMT, which the solpos Time Zone parameter. If the user specifies clock time (different for winter and summer), s/he would have to change the Time Zone parameter seasonally in r.sunmask (timezone parameter). See also Daylight saving time by region and country.

Note: In latitude/longitude locations the position coordinates pair (east/west) has to be specified in decimal degree (not D:M:S). If not specified, the map center’s coordinates will be used. Also g.region -l displays the map center’s coordinates in latitude/longitude (or g.region -c in the actual coordinate system).

Note for module usage with the -g flag, when performing calculations close to sunset/sunrise:

Time (07:59:02) is before sunrise (07:59:19)!
WARNING: Nothing to calculate. Please verify settings.
No map calculation requested. Finished.
In above calculation it appears to be a mistake as the program indicates that we are before sunrise while the sun angle above horizon is already positive. The reason is that sun angle above horizon is calculated with correction for atmosphere refraction while sunrise and sunset are calculated without correction for atmosphere refraction. The output without -g flag contains related indications.


Example for North Carolina sample data set for the calculation of sun position angles and more:

# set the region to a place near Raleigh (NC)
g.region raster=elev_lid792_1m -p
# compute only sun position and no output map
r.sunmask -s elev_lid792_1m year=2012 month=2 \

day=22 hour=10 minute=30 timezone=-5 Using map center coordinates: 638650.000000 220375.000000 Calculating sun position... (using solpos (V. 11 April 2001) from NREL) 2012/02/22, daynum: 53, time: 10:30:00 (decimal time: 10.500000) long: -78.678856, lat: 35.736160, timezone: -5.000000 Solar position: sun azimuth: 143.006409, sun angle above horz. (refraction corrected): 36.233879 Sunrise time (without refraction): 06:58:11 Sunset time (without refraction): 17:58:47 # with -g flag, useful for eval() shell function r.sunmask -s -g elev_lid792_1m year=2012 month=2 \
day=22 hour=10 minute=30 timezone=-5 Using map center coordinates: 638650.000000 220375.000000 Calculating sun position... (using solpos (V. 11 April 2001) from NREL) date=2012/02/22 daynum=53 time=10:30:00 decimaltime=10.500000 longitudine=-78.678856 latitude=35.736160 timezone=-5.000000 sunazimuth=143.006409 sunangleabovehorizon=36.233879 sunrise=06:58:11 sunset=17:58:47


Acknowledgements: National Renewable Energy Laboratory for their SOLPOS 2.0 sun position algorithm.


g.region, r.sun, r.sunhours, r.slope.aspect


Janne Soimasuo, Finland 1994
update to FP by Huidae Cho 2001
added solpos algorithm feature by Markus Neteler 2001


Available at: r.sunmask source code (history)

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