Far-infrared surface emissivity and climate

An Online Article at the PNAS* Website

By Daniel R. Feldmana, 1, William D. Collinsa,b, Robert Pincusc, Xianglei Huangd, and Xiuhong Chend

Author Affiliations
Edited by Robert E. Dickinson, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, and approved October 7, 2014 (received for review July 22, 2014)

The article?? begins,

SIGNIFICANCE:

“We find that many of the Earth’s climate variables, including surface temperature, outgoing longwave radiation, cooling rates, and frozen surface extent, are sensitive to far-IR surface emissivity, a largely unconstrained, temporally and spatially heterogeneous scaling factor for the blackbody radiation from the surface at wavelengths between 15 ?m and 100 ?m.

“We also describe a previously unidentified mechanism that amplifies high-latitude and high-altitude warming in finding significantly lower values of far-IR emissivity for ocean and desert surfaces than for sea ice and snow.

“This leads to a decrease in surface emission at far-IR wavelengths, reduced cooling to space, and warmer radiative surface temperatures.

“Far-IR emissivity can be measured from spectrally resolved observations, but such measurements have not yet been made.”

You can read the article in its entirety online at the *Proceedings of the USA’s National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) website: http://www.pnas.org/content/111/46/16297.full.

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