Atmospheric windows are regions of the electromagnetic spectrum where the atmosphere is transparent to certain wavelengths of radiation. This means that some wavelengths of radiation can penetrate the atmosphere and be detected from the Earth’s surface, while others are blocked. This limits the types of observations that can be made from the Earth’s surface, since only certain wavelengths of radiation can be detected. For example, infrared radiation is blocked by water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, so observations in the infrared range are limited.

Atmospheric window

The absorption bands of Earth’s atmosphere (gray color) delimit its atmospheric windows (middle panel) and the effect they have on both descendants solar radiation and ascending thermal radiation emitted near the surface is shown in the top panel. The individual absorption spectra of the main greenhouse gases plus Rayleigh scattering are shown in the bottom panel.

One atmospheric window is a range of wavelengths of electromagnetic spectrum that can pass through Earth’s atmosphere. The optical, infra-red and radio the windows comprise the three main atmospheric windows. The windows provide direct channels for the Earth’s surface to receive electromagnetic energy from the Sun and for thermal radiation from the surface to go out into space. Atmospheric windows are useful for astronomy, remote sensing, telecommunications and other science and technology applications.

Role in Earth’s energy budget

Atmospheric windows, especially optical and infrared windows, affect the distribution of energy fluxes and temperatures within the Earth. energy balance. The windows themselves depend on clouds, water vapour, traces of greenhouse gases and other components of the atmosphere.

From an average of 340 watts per square meter (W/mtwo) in solar irradiance at the top of the atmosphere, about 200 W/mtwo reaches the surface through windows, mainly optical and infrared. In addition, from about 340 W/mtwo of reflected short wave (105 W/mtwo) more outgoing longwave radiation (235 W/mtwo), 80-100 W/mtwo goes out into space through the infrared window, depending on cloudiness. About 40 W/mtwo of that transmitted amount is emitted from the surface, while most of the remainder comes from lower regions of the atmosphere. Complementarily, the infrared window also transmits to the surface a portion of the downward thermal radiation that is emitted in the colder upper regions of the atmosphere.

Some sources, mainly those related to the study of greenhouse effectsuggest a synonymy of the terms atmospheric window and infrared window, because the infrared window is examined as an escape route for a fraction of the thermal radiation emitted near the surface. Sources within other fields of science and technology exhibited less ambiguity, i.e. radio astronomy and remote sensing.

The “window” concept is useful for providing qualitative information about some important features of the atmosphere. radiation transport. Complete characterization of absorption, emissionand scattering coefficients of the atmospheric medium is necessary to perform a rigorous quantitative analysis (usually done with atmospheric radiative transfer codes). application of Beer-Lambert’s Law can produce sufficient quantitative estimates for wavelengths where the atmosphere is optically thin. The window properties are encoded primarily in the absorption profile.

Other Applications

in astronomy

Until the 1940s, astronomers used optical telescopes observe distant astronomical objects whose radiation reached Earth through the optical window. After this period, the development of radio telescopes gave rise to the most successful field of radio astronomy which is based on the analysis of observations made through the radio window.

in telecommunications

communication satellites rely heavily on atmospheric windows for transmitting and receiving signals: the satellite-earth links are set at frequencies that fall within the spectral bandwidth of the atmospheric windows. short wave radio does the opposite, using frequencies that produce sky waves rather than those who escape through radio windows.[citation needed]

in remote sensing

Both active (signal emitted by satellite or aircraft, reflection detected by sensor) and passive (reflection of sunlight detected by sensor) remote sensing the techniques work with wavelength intervals contained in the atmospheric windows.

See too


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