Incident photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) is an important parameter for terrestrial ecosystem models. Because of its high temporal resolution, the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) observations are very suited to catch the diurnal variation of PAR. In this paper, a new method is developed to derive PAR using GOES data. What makes this new method distinct from the existing method is that it does not need external knowledge of atmospheric conditions. The new method retrieves both atmospheric and surface conditions using only at-sensor radiance through interpolation of time series of observations. Validations against ground measurement are carried out at four "FLUXNET" sites. The values of RMSE of estimated and ground-measured instantaneous PAR at the four sites are 130.71, 131.44, 141.16, and 190.22 μol m-2 s-1, respectively. At the four validation sites, the RMSE as the percentage of estimated mean PAR value are 9.52%, 13.01%, 13.92%, and 24.09%, respectively; the biases are -101.54, 16.56, 11.09, and 53.64 μol m-2 s-1, respectively. The independence of external atmospheric information enables this method to be applicable to many situations in which external atmospheric information is not available. In addition, topographic impacts on surface PAR are examined at the 1-km resolution at which PAR is retrieved using the GOES visible band data.