Physical Constraints on the Climate Sensitivity

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by George White

For matter that’s absorbing and emitting energy, the emissions consequential to its temperature can be calculated exactly using the Stefan-Boltzmann Law,

1) P = εσT4

where P is the emissions in W/m2, T is the temperature of the emitting matter in degrees Kelvin, σ is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant whose value is about 5.67E-8 W/m2 per K4 and ε is the emissivity which is 1 for an ideal black body radiator and somewhere between 0 and 1 for a non ideal system also called a gray body. Wikipedia defines a Stefan-Boltzmann gray body as one “that does not absorb all incident radiation” although it doesn’t specify what happens to the unabsorbed energy which must either be reflected, passed through or do work other than heating the matter. This is a myopic view since the Stefan-Boltzmann Law is equally valid for quantifying…

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