Authors: J. Mandal,* X. Huang, A. Raman*
Journal Link: Atmosphere, 12(9), 1195 (2021)
Summary: Theoretical calculations of the cooling potential of radiative cooling materials are crucial for determining their cooling capability under different meteorological conditions and evaluating their performance. To enable these calculations, accurate models of long-wave infrared downwelling atmospheric irradiance are needed. However, the transmittance-based cosine approximation (ε(θ)=1-τ1/cosθ), which is widely used to determine radiative cooling potentials, does not account for the cooling potential arising from heat loss to the colder reaches of the atmosphere itself.
Here, I show that use of the approximation can lead to > 10% underestimation of the cooling potential relative to MODTRAN 6 outputs. I propose a temperature correction to the transmittance-based approximation which accounts for heat loss to the cold upper atmosphere, and significantly reduces this underestimation, while retaining the advantages of the original model.
In light of the widespread and continued use of the transmittance-based model, this work highlights an important source of potential errors and a means to correct for them. It also indicates that the performances of previously reported radiative cooling designs and radiative cooling potential maps may have to correct for the theoretical underestimation if they used the transmittance-based model.