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Unexpected Relationships between Thermal and Radiative Energy Transfer

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Document pages: 13 pages

Abstract: A simple experiment is described where the IR (infrared) radiation level is kept constant while the temperature of an IR absorbing and a non-absorbing solid object are changed. The two objects, made from black-painted and highly polished Al foil envelopes, respectively, are placed in a chamber where the temperature is controlled. When heated by the surrounding air the black object becomes about 40 colder than the non-IR absorbing object! However, when the two objects are cooled by the surrounding air, the black becomes ca. 40 warmer than the non-IR absorbing object (and the surrounding air). This effect was surprising to us, and it gave us an opportunity to quantify the relationship between IR radiation flow and thermal energy flow. The unexpected large value of the (Fourier) thermal conductivity coefficient was found to be the reason for the reduced warming cooling of the black object. The interaction between radiative and thermal energy transfer, when an IR absorbing object (like the surface of the Earth) is warmed, should be included in the climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), since the global land temperature is measured in the air above Earth’s surface. This leads to ca. 15 of the temperature increase predicted by the climate models.

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