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Thermal Radiation in the Upper Atmosphere

A. R. Curtis and R. M. Goody
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Vol. 236, No. 1205 (Aug. 2, 1956), pp. 193-206
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/100028
Page Count: 14
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Thermal Radiation in the Upper Atmosphere
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Abstract

Atmospheric radiation calculations usually assume a Boltzmann distribution of molecules among the vibrational and rotational energy levels. At the low pressures encountered high in the earth's atmosphere, the collision rate is insufficient to maintain such a distribution. An equation of transfer is derived, for a vibration-rotation band, which does not assume a Boltzmann distribution among the vibrational levels. From this is derived an equation for the heating rate due to the band in a plane-stratified atmosphere. It is shown that the heating rate per unit mass tends to zero with the pressure, because of the departure from a Boltzmann distribution, which becomes serious above about 75 km. A method of solving the equation for the heating rate is described, and is applied to a model of the 15 μ carbon dioxide band as an example. The effect of departures from a Boltzmann distribution among the rotational levels is also considered, and it is shown to be unimportant for vibration-rotation bands, but to limit computations on the water-vapour rotation band to heights less than about 90 km.

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