Climate science stance amounts to a gross misrepresentation of reality
The DIY way to demystify “greenhouse gas” claims
By Fred F. Mueller
Fig. 1. The sun and the clouds – here a thin cover of high clouds and some aviation chemtrails – are the main driving forces for the energy fluxes determining our climate. The “greenhouse gases” are – if ever – just a minor factor.
In Part 1, we looked at the deplorable tendency of climate doomsayers to reduce the factual complexity and variability of parameters influencing our climate by focusing on a single aspect – the so-called “greenhouse gases” – and among these on the declared most odious villain: CO2. Its content in the atmosphere is declared to be the one and only factor 1) that determines our climate and hence earth’s temperature.
The efficiency of this one parameter is attributed to the power to restrain the currently positive planet-wide temperature trend to within + 1.5 °C, thus urging politicians to set a residual CO2 budget 2) of 400 billion tonnes subdivided and allocated to each nation within narrow allowances. These national budgets are then again subdivided and enforced onto the different sectors of industry and the population with grave consequences for the welfare of society, e.g. cement and metal production, building and heating standards or private car use.
Any other variables affecting the energy budget of our planet such as water vapor, actually a much more potent “greenhouse gas” than CO2, are simply ignored by treating them either as constants or as mere amplifying factors. The influence of clouds – the other aggregate states of water in the atmosphere – is simply and willfully suppressed.
Interesting discrepancies with respect to clouds
One of the most striking methodical imprecisions (if not outright untruths) of current climate science is demonstrated when looking at Fig. 2, a diagram elaborated by NASA that purports to convey a realistic impression of the energy fluxes on earth’s surface and in the atmosphere.
Fig. 2. This representation of the energy flux densities on earth elaborated by NASA is misleading with respect to some decisive facts (Chart by NASA 3), public domain. Note: This picture and the corresponding link have been withdrawn after completion of the article. In a subsequent part, the replacement graphic and its amendments will be treated in detail. Nevertheless, this graphic and its errors have been displayed for a prolonged time, thus warranting a suited discussion).
The chart is, to put it politely, a bit misleading when it comes to the role of clouds. In this graphic we see, from left to right, just three representations of clouds. The cloud symbol to the left does not absorb any energy; its only role is to reflect incoming solar radiation, together with the atmosphere and without detailing the share of both participants.
In the center, the cloud is an emitting-only entity (!) radiating 29.9 W/m2 towards outer space through the atmospheric window without any discernible energy input. And finally, the cloud symbol on the right is soaking up a constant power input of 86.4 W/m2 without any discernible output. For anybody having had a basic scientific education, this leaves question marks. And even if we piece together the different input and output figures related to clouds, we are left with an unexplained balance difference of +56.5 W/m2. This discrepancy warrants a certain degree of suspicion with respect to the presented role of clouds within the atmospheric energy fluxes.
Fig. 3. The sun’s global radiation input flow density over two days in July 2022 lying close to each other with strongly different cloud cover (Graphic: Author, own calculation with values taken from Kachelmannwetter 4)
Clouds – an elusive yet decisive climate variable
To this end, we will look at clouds with a strict focus on macroscopic energy fluxes. Clouds are the result of the over-saturation of air with water vapor as a result of falling temperatures, resulting in the formation of microscopic water droplets or ice crystals inside an air bubble that is saturated to 100% with water vapor und contains a certain amount of aerosol particles that serve as seeds for the condensation. The main difference to air merely saturated to 100% with water vapor but containing neither droplets nor ice particles is that the pure water vapor is fully transparent while the cloud is visible and can displays an amazing variety of sizes, shapes and colors.
Cooling: clouds prevent sun’s energy from reaching the earth
In a first approach, we will omit all other aspects with the exception of the reflection, absorption and emission of light, be it visible or infrared. Contrary to water vapor that is reacting with Infrared (IR) photons exclusively in molecule-specific frequency bands, the tiny particles within clouds interact with all radiation photons just like any solid or liquid bodies. The particles deflect, break or reflect visible light, e.g. forming rainbows under certain conditions, and also absorb light of all wavelengths, as can be seen by the changing color of cumulus clouds that appear brilliant white at the top and become darker towards their bottom.
229 times greater than CO2
Due to their very different sizes and structures, their reflectance (also called albedo) 5) – e.g. the fraction of incoming sunlight that will be reflected back into space – can vary between 10% for cirrus clouds and up to 90% for cumulonimbus clouds. In other words, a big cloud may prevent up to 90% of the incoming solar energy from reaching the earth’s surface. This means that during daytime, the ever-changing cloud cover of earth functions just like a variable lid or filter determining how much energy input we receive at surface level. The max difference of energy flux densities between these two days amounts to 715 W/m2, see Fig 4:
Fig 4. This graphic shows the absolute differences between the solar energy flux densities of July 2nd and July 7th, 2022 in the Konstanz region of Germany. The black line representing the 3.11 W/m2 attributed to the combined effect of greenhouse gases cannot even be discerned from the x-axis.
This max difference of 715 W/m2 is more than 229 times the 3.11 W/m2 attributed to the climate effect of the main greenhouse gases. In Fig 4, the corresponding black line can’t even be discerned from the x-axis. One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand this relationship. Everybody’s practical experience confirms the fact that a noticeable cloud cover will prevent ambient temperatures from climbing as high than would be the case in sunnier conditions.
Worse still for the narrative of “water vapor reinforcement” currently advanced by our climate science pundits, the cumulated solar input flux density for both days amounts to 7.2 kWh and 4.1 kWh respectively, while by comparison the 24-h-effect attributed to the greenhouse gases adds up to just 0.075 kWh. The difference between the solar input for both days is 3.1 kWh, a figure that is 40 times higher than the alleged climate sensitivity contribution of greenhouse gases.
Warming: clouds emit substantial quantities of IR energy
Furthermore, clouds do not only block enormous quantities of solar energy from reaching the soil by reflecting the related radiation back into space, they have another characteristic that can best be understood by assuming that when it comes to IR radiation energy: they behave like massive bodies (in reality, the exact mechanism is more complicated). Don’t be fooled by the fact that clouds seem to have no mass, hovering high in the air without losing height and being blown around at the mercy of the winds. Despite their apparent weightlessness, clouds have an important mass sometimes even exceeding one metric ton per square meter. This becomes obvious when their water content comes down to earth as rain. Just 50 mm of rain translate to a water mass of 50 kg/m2, and the corresponding clouds will usually continue their path towards the horizon without showing signs of thinning or fading away. A collection of extreme weather events assembled by the World Meteorological Organisation 6) lists a 1-hour rainfall of 305 mm and a 12-hour rainfall of 1,144 mm, which translates to water masses of 305 kg and 1,144 kg per square meter of cloud cover.
These considerable masses of water above in the sky emit IR radiation characterizing their temperature in line with the physical law established by Stefan and Boltzmann 7). On rainy days, the base of bad weather clouds often comes down to just a few hundred meters above ground. It has the temperature of the ambient air at this altitude, which can be estimated as being about 2-5 °C below the temperature at ground level (the air temperature usually drops by approximately 6.5 °C over a height gain of 1,000 m). Knowing the temperature of the cloud base thus yields the input for calculating the IR output flux density of the cloud towards the soil. This brings us to the first interesting DIY tip when trying to assess energy flows in the system earth/atmosphere for the given location, see Fig. 5:
Fig. 5. With modern infrared surface temperature sensing instruments (1) available in DIY shops, one can easily measure the surface temperature of the soil and of the base of clouds. (2)=soil temperature Jan. 13th, 2013, (4)=cloud cover overhead and (5)=the respective temperature value.
Assessing a cloud’s downward IR radiation
Sophisticated instruments enable meteorologists to accurately measure the downward IR emission flux density from clouds and other sources (such as the clear sky atmosphere without clouds, mainly containing water vapor, aerosols and greenhouse gases). At the same time, advancements in the mass production of IR thermometry has also given the public the ability to buy a fairly viable instrument for just a few dozen bucks at the local DIY shop (by the way, for measuring clouds, a model with a min temperature limit of about -50°C might be preferable to one limited to only – 20°C).
With such equipment, it is astonishingly easy to measure the temperature of the soil and the cloud base at the same place within just a minute or so, see Fig 5. Take care to measure directly on the soil (bare earth or short lawn) (2), since especially on hot summer days, stones, metals and asphalt (3) can reach temperatures exceeding soil levels by sometimes more than 10 °C. On the other hand, clouds that are too thin such as cirrus clouds (6) will not deliver valid readings. Avoid trying to measure individual clouds surrounded by clear sky since the instrument has a rather wide-angled input cone and will almost inevitably include portions of clear sky causing it to deliver an invalid reading.
Measuring ground and clouds should be performed as vertically as possible und always at the same date and time. On a side note, such IR thermometers can help you in your home in the winter to assess the quality of your outer wall insulation. Just compare the readings from inner and outer walls (or windows) or the values from the middle of your outer wall with those obtained from the corner where that most darned mold stain keeps reappearing despite the chemicals you used to combat it.
How to calculate IR energy flux densities from surface temperatures
Thanks to the availability of such simple and pricey means to measure soil as well as cloud base temperatures, even laymen can easily calculate two of the four main radiation energy flux densities that influence the energy balance at a given location. These “big four” are (1) the local global solar radiation 8), (2) the upwelling IR radiation governed by the current surface temperature at ground level and (3) the downwelling IR radiation emanating from the cloud cover. The first figure can be obtained by scanning the homepages of your local weather stations for one that has the instrumentation to perform this task. Additionally, several other important energy transport mechanisms such as convection and rain have for now been left aside in order to facilitate the basic understanding of the energy fluxes determined by radiation, since in this chapter, we focus on the radiative mechanisms assigned to the so-called “greenhouse gases”.
Going forward, we first look at an easy way to assess factors (2) and (3). As already mentioned in Part 1, there are internet service providers such as Spectralcalc 9) that can be freely accessed where one can input temperature values and instantly gets a figure (and ideally a graph) for the power flux density of the IR radiation emitted by a surface. (The results presented here were checked against figures published by a well-equipped meteorological station in Germany 10). The differences were just in the low one-digit percentage range). When keying in the figures, keep in mind that in the relevant temperature range, emissivity values are very close to one and that the wavelength output boundaries should be set to 4 and 40 µm.
Furthermore, check if you have selected the correct temperature scale (°C or Kelvin). Using the values taken from Fig. 5, this gives us the energy flux densities shown in Fig. 6:
Fig. 6. Energy flux densities of IR radiation from the soil and from a compact cloud cover hovering probably some 800 meters above (Graphics: Spectralcalc 9), author)
Just to again compare orders of magnitude, the downwelling radiation density of about 297 W/m2 emanating from the cloud is 95 times higher as the alleged “radiative forcing” effect of the main “greenhouse gases”.
(For readers wanting to perform such calculations themselves, Fig. 7. shows a simplified equation that will deliver reasonably accurate results):
Fig. 7. A simplified calculation for IR emissions delivering the flux density in W/m2
The decisive dual role of clouds
As has been demonstrated, the measurement results are not in line with the official climate science that largely exaggerates the influence of CO2 and the other “greenhouse gases” while at the same time withholding the decisive role of water in its disregarded aggregate states in the atmosphere, e.g. when it condensates to droplets ore ice particles forming clouds. This official stance amounts to a gross misrepresentation of reality as has been shown in this chapter.
Clouds dwarf the alleged contribution of “greenhouse gases”
Clouds play a dual role in the transfer of energy in the atmosphere. Putting aside for the moment energy transfer by other mechanisms such as evaporation/condensation and convection, we have seen that just by blocking sunlight input by day and emitting downwelling IR radiation by day as well as by night, clouds can act as coolant and heating agents transmitting or blocking energy in quantities that literally dwarf the alleged contribution of “greenhouse gases”. Another factor that also has to be taken into account is the blocking of the IR radiation earth’s surface is constantly emitting. Clouds can absorb a very high percentage of this radiation and re-emit a large portion of it back downwards, thus trapping it inside the system earth/atmosphere, a role some climate pundits attribute solely to “greenhouse gases”, as demonstrated by Fig. 8., see also the first chapter of this article 11).
Fig. 8. The misleading cloud-free lead-in picture of the Wikipedia chapter about the “greenhouse effect” (Author: Efbrazil 12), CC 4.0).
The climate reality is thus shaped to a large extent by a complex interaction of all functions of clouds – including downpour, convection, radiative warming and radiative cooling – in combinations that the currently available science cannot model and, even less so, credibly forecast.
Meteorological stations should urgently be upgraded
It should be noted that a given cloud can change its overall function from warming to cooling according to the time of day. These interactions should be monitored with sophisticated equipment that up to now, not many meteorological stations have at their disposal. Keeping in mind that climate is defined as the average course of weather conditions for a particular location over a period of many years, this implies that the existing networks of meteorological stations should urgently be upgraded with the necessary instruments, software and workforce training.
The next part will look at some interesting professional-level meteorological results underscoring the fact that clouds, not greenhouse gases, and energy balances, not air temperatures 2 m above ground are the decisive levers to assess changes in our climate.
3) The figure and the corresponding link were removed from the Internet after completion of this article.
18 responses to “Climate Scientists Using Grossly Simplified, Deplorably Unrealistic Models And Assumptions”
This is the way I’ve look at it: CO2 is currently about 0.042% of the atmosphere. It is essentially an invisible trace gas that can’t possibly have much of an impact on the climate. If we were to spend trillions of dollars to reduce CO2 to 0.035% of the atmosphere, which is probably where where it would be without our contribution, does anyone believe that could make a measurable difference? CO2 is a false villain and so is methane, which is only 0.00017% of the atmosphere.
Please make the effort to learn how thoroughly CAGWH is all conjectural simulations built on facts tortured to give a “right” answer. Back-radiation, a pillar of CAGWH belief, is hypothetical thermal energy impossibly “accumulated” in the higher, cooler atmosphere for return to the Earth’s warmer surface. Energy, unlike matter does not accumulate.
On 9-10 September 2011, on a completely clear night and day, using detectors, including pyrgeometers, pyrometers, radiometers and IR thermometers, Dr. Nasif Nahle took an averaged record for thermal radiation from the Earth’s atmosphere and surface. Surface radiative emission cooled steadily by about 4.03W each hour. The atmosphere cooled progressively from 2.46K to -2.95K per hour, in the same period. Professor Nahle concluded that variation between the two temperature profiles implies that the atmosphere in no way affected soil temperature, as it might have if it had radiated energy toward Earth as an absorbing surface.
Back radiation? By focusing radiometers or IR thermometers towards the sky at a 90° angle from the surface, the instruments measured thermal radiation from stratus clouds, cirri clouds and cirrostrati at about 6 km altitude. These regions of temperatures higher than the surrounding air absorb, scatter, reflect, and emit solar thermal radiation.
These thin cirrus cloud emitting longwave and shortwave thermal radiations not only a partial, are not only effective and ongoing obstacles to solar thermal radiation but also a thermal energy source that radiometers and IR thermometers readily detect. The instruments then make an average over their fields of view of the globules of hot air and thermal radiation from cirri. These are the source of upper atmosphere heat so detected. Nahle determined that what thermal radiation devices detect is from relatively-small hot globules of air rising vertically in the atmosphere. They are merely vehicles transporting thermal radiation from the surface to higher altitudes by day and night. That is all the “back radiation” there is. (Nahle, Nasif, “Observations of ‘backradiation’ during nighttime and daytime,” Biology Cabinet, Principia Scientific International, Sept 26, 2011.)
It is a fact that if NCGHGs are 99% of the atmosphere then the non-GHGs contain 99% of the thermal energy in the atmosphere.
We are told everything over 0K in temperature emits IR (in proportion to the temperature). We are also told the non-GHGs in the air do not radiate. Which is it? It can’t be both.
If the non-GHGs radiate then the GHE is bogus, since all gases in the air are GHGs and those currently designated GHGs are only 1% of the answer.
If the non-GHGs don’t radiate, then 1% of the air is responsible for 100% of the 333W/M2 of back radiation, which suggests the GHGs themselves are thousands of degrees hot.
This whole climate science thesis is just mumbo-jumbo nonsense.
Ah, but methane is a REALLY strong greenhouse gas.
In 1861 John Tyndall measured it as 4.5 times stronger than CO2 in absorbing IR.
In the original IPCC report (1990) reported it as 12 times as strong.
Since then reports from AGW believers have increased that to 24 times, then 33 then 45 then 65? and the last guess I saw was 85 times stronger.
At 85 times the effect of CO2 and the 1.4 p.p.m. that must mean that methane is responsible for a third of the (claimed) warming in the last 150 years.
Have you read Tyndall´s study on gases? Did he really measure any “greenhouse effect” in gases?
No. He placed a heat source at the end of a pipe and a sensor at the other end. He then filled the tube with different gases and measured how much they REDUCED the heat radiation passing through the gases.
To measure a greenhouse effect you need to put the heat source INSIDE the gas, it must be surrounded by gas. Then you must place thermocouples on the heat source and measure the temperature change when you pump in the gas in the surroundings of the heat source. In this situation the heat source mimicks the Earth surface. The resulting temperature change will be the “greenhouse effect”. But guess what? The temperature change will be the opposite of what the GHE-hypothesis says. Cold gases cool a heat source, they don´t warm it.
More claptrap from this author who always gives the impression that 100% of consensus climate science is wrong, and he is right, which is n quite an ego.
CO2 and other manmade greenhouse gases are real climate change variables but not variables to be concerned about. CO2 above 400ppm is a mild greenhouse gas. Methane effects overlap water vaor effect, and the quantity is very small, so is even less important than CO2
Water vapor is not a cause of climate change — it is a feedback to any cause of climate change that changes the average temperature of the troposphere
Clouds are among many climate change variables but there are no accurate long-term data for cloudiness, and cloud type, to specify exactly how much CHANGES in cloudiness have had on the global average temperature in the past 50 years.
The author seems perpetually confused by the fact that climate models ae inaccurate in predicting the future climate. They are programmed to scare people, not programmed to make accurate predictions. In fact, there is not enough knowledge about every climate change variable to create an accurate model. And that assumes the future climate could be predicted — I doubt that it can be predicted. But I know models can be used to create fear of the future climate, because they have n been doing so since the 1970s, with no effort to revise them for more accurate predictions.
At this website, any study or author who dismisses convention climate science is given the n benefit of the doubt. This author is another example. His closing statement:
“The next part will look at some interesting professional-level meteorological results underscoring the fact that clouds, not greenhouse gases, and energy balances, not air temperatures 2 m above ground are the decisive levers to assess changes in our climate.”
That statement is FALSE.
Data to prove that claim do not exist.
No one knows the exact causes of climate change in the past 50 years. There are lists of the usual suspects, but not specific percentages of the climate change caused by each climate change variable. The author here is making a claim about clouds without the data necessary to prove he is right. Detailed knowledge of EBERY climate change variable is REQUIRED before the exact effect of any ONE variable, such as clouds, can be proven.
One chart in this article, a local “MEASURMENT”(accuracy unknown) of cloudiness on two specific days in July 2022 is presented as evidence does not serve the same purpose as accurate measurements global average cloudiness changes from year to year over many decades, which do NOT exist. This use of a specific local anecdote, with accuracy of the numbers unknown, to make a general point about global climate change is science fraud. Or science incompetency.
The frequent publication of these “consensus climate science is 100% wrong” articles at this website are more than I can take. I will delete my link to this website and spend my time reading elsewhere, such as the excellent NOT A LOT OF PPEOPLE KNOW THAT website. … I know Mr. Richard, among others, will be thrilled to see me go — let’s just call this his birthday present for 2023.
I’ll leave my final message:
AGW is real and harmless
CAGW is a fantasy prediction of climate doom
Net Zero is not needed, because CAGW is not real
More CO2 in the atmosphere would be good news.
Stefan law can only be applied to a body which respect the black body model, so not to the earth surface, nor to clouds.
Moreover, when radiative flux are measured, they include the proper body emission and the reflected emission.
Radiative energy transfer must not be confused with radiative flux :
To calculate the radiative energy transfer from one body B1 to another body B2 the measures of the radiative flux f1 from B1 aborbed by B2 and the flux f2 from B2 absorbed by B1 must be done :
– the radiative energy transfer from B1 to B2 is then f1 – f2.
A radiative flux by itself has no physical meaning and can be arbitrarily high without inducing any energy transfer.
As an example, if B1 and B2 have the same radiatve emission flux from one to another, the energy transfer from one to antoher is 0.
They do not warm each other !
Hope this helps.
Stefan’s Law and Constant of energy density Stefan’s Constant express energy (energy per unit volume or area) that is available to do work. It applies to ALL forms of energy from the simplest fire to radiant emissions. “Power density,” expressed by the Stefan Boltzmann Law is energy of a given area over time, and dependent on and limited by the underlying energy expressed by Stefan’s Law. Stefan’s Law applies to everything from radiant emission to choosing hickory over pine coals for grilling a steak. (Which has more energy and which would you use/) The alarmists don’t like energy constants because it prevents the unlimited power density warmists want in their energy fright budgets.
The relationship of both density constants expressed by a/σ or σ/a which allows solving for either energy density a or for power density, σ. See pages 81-82 of “Thermal Physics,” Revised Edition, (W. A. Benjamin, Inc., NYC & Amsterdam, 1965), Phillip M. Morse, Professor of Physics, MIT. Morse lists it as a constant on page 446. (The constant began disappearing from use around 19i65.)
As an overall complaint, sufficient reading of “unofficial” climate criticism shows it is it empty conjecture not worth dignifying with a response. The physicists are right to cut it off summarily as imaginary and simulations based on well-financed and meaningless logorrhea.
Sorry for the typos. They set a record; bear with me. Thanks.
The Stefan-Boltzmann law is valid for all bodies emitting a continuous spectrum. There are correction factors for real bodies such as reflectence and emittance. This is the case for liquids and solids. Note that energy fluxes that are equal in quantity but opposite in their vector do not mean that there is no energy exchange taking place. It’s just the balance that becomes zero. If the second body would be removed, the remaining body with let’s say a temperature of 300 K would constantly emit and thus lose its energy content into space until he reaches temperature equilibrium. (Space has a very small back radiation “temperature” of about 2.7 K)
Simple question (?) Is it possible for a body to ABSORB and at the same time REFLECT that same energy? Accept that the Cloud ( cumulus as discussed appears white at top and dark at bottom) does what it does. Any person who works outdoors, especially in Winter knows that the Sun going ( hah – not the cloud COMING ) behind the cloud makes the affected area turn very cold almost instantly. Hidden areas refreeze quite quickly once again.
City knowalls need to ge4t out more often, not just for walkies, but to stay and work in real conditions to undersatnd what is going on. My weather station always disagrees with other forecasts.
Yes indeed, but not the same photon. A real body absorbs a certain portion of the photons hitting it while reflecting the rest. The respective share depends on the body’s characteristics AND on the wavelength of the photons. The related correction value for the SB-equation is called reflectance and can vary between 0 (=total absorption) and 100 % (=total reflection).
At the same time the body will always emit photons according to its temperature, in line with the SB law. Here, another correction factor (emissivity) is used, because real bodies never reach the level of a idealized black body. Just as for reflectance, its value can vary between 0 and 100 %.
At temperature levels below those to be found on earth’s surface (except volcanism and wildfires), reflectance and emissivity will mostly be > 90%.
Absorption and emission of photons are not interdependent. Emission is solely governed by the object’s temperature while reflection depends on the intensity of the incoming radiation as well as on the reflectance of the body for the wavelength of the incoming photon.
Sorry, the first paragraph should be corrected as follows:
The related correction value for the SB-equation is called reflectance and can vary between 0 (=total absorption) and 100 % (=total reflection).
The reflectance can vary between 0 (=total absorption) and 100 % (=total reflection). (SB has nothing to do with reflection)
I have wanted to analyse my copy of Canada’s official, publicly available meteorological observation data (1850 – 2007) for changes in cloud cover or insolation, but there are no data included, for example, for daily hours of sunshine. The best I could do would be to use days with precipitation as a proxy for cloudy days, and days with no precipitation as sunny days. I doubt that would be of much use.
As a replacement, I recommend to look for the power output of a nearby photovoltaic installation. Some commercial operators display and archive their exploits on their website. PV output and global solar radiation depend on the same power source, although the correlation is not 100 %. Make sure the installation has not been up- or downscaled over the time period you want to analyze.
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“Sophisticated instruments enable meteorologists to accurately measure the downward IR emission flux density from clouds and other sources”
No, a pyrgeometer is not a sophisticated instrument. It´s a thermopile. And it can´t measure heat radiation from an object colder than the instrument, because there is no heat transfer from low to high temperature.
Read the manual for a pyrgeometer and look at the equation it uses, you´ll see what I´m talking about.
Sorry, this is a wrong conclusion often found on blogs. You can measure the temperature LOSS of the thermopile tip against its base just as well as you can record its temperature GAIN against the base from a source with a higher temperature. A simple way to verify the function is to open your ice box and point the instrument at its bottom. Of course, the simple DIY instruments have a restricted range and accuracy, but the principle in itself works either way.