This study examines the importance of horizontal photon transport effects, which are not considered in the 1-D calculations of solar radiative heating used by most atmospheric dynamical models. In particular, the paper analyzes the difference between 2-D and 1-D radiative calculations for 2-D vertical cross-sections of clouds that were observed at three sites over 2- to 3-year periods. The results show that 2-D effects increase multiyear 24-hour average total solar absorption by about 4.1 W/sq m, 1.2 W/sq m, and 0.3 W/sq m at a tropical, mid-latitude, and arctic site, respectively. However, 2-D effects are often much larger than these average values, especially for high sun and for convective clouds. The results also reveal a somewhat unexpected behavior, that horizontal photon transport often enhances solar heating even for oblique sun. These findings underscore the need for fast radiation calculation methods that can allow atmospheric dynamical simulations to consider the inherently multidimensional nature of shortwave radiative processes.