Atmospheric Absorption Measurements with a Microwave Radiometer

Phys. Rev. 70, 340 – Published 1 September 1946
Robert H. Dicke, Robert Beringer, Robert L. Kyhl, and A. B. Vane


The absorption of microwave radiation in traversing the earth's atmosphere has been measured at three wave-lengths (1.00 cm, 1.25 cm, and 1.50 cm) in the region of a water-vapor absorption line. The measurement employs a sensitive radiometer to detect thermal radiation from the absorbing atmosphere. The theory of such measurements and the connection between absorption and thermal radiation are presented. The measured absorption together with water-vapor soundings of the atmosphere permits the calculation of the absorption coefficients at standard conditions (293°K, 1015 millibar). These are 0.011, 0.026, and 0.014 db/km/g H2O/m3 for the wave-lengths 1.00 cm, 1.25 cm, and 1.50 cm, respectively. These values are (50 percent) greater than those given by the theory of Van Vleck. The collision width of the line and its location are in better agreement with the theory and infra-red absorption measurement. It is also found that there is very little (<20°K) radiation from cosmic matter at the radiometer wave-lengths.


  • Received 18 May 1946
  • Published in the issue dated September 1946

© 1946 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

Robert H. Dicke*, Robert Beringer, Robert L. Kyhl, and A. B. Vane

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge Massachusetts

  • *Now at Princeton University.
  • Now at Yale University.
  • Now at Naval Ordnance Test Station, Inyokern, California.

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