Debunked: "Deadly Ultraviolet UV-C and UV-B Penetration to Earth’s Surface:" [Stray Light]

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Deadly UV Metabunk.jpg


In a paper titled "Deadly Ultraviolet UV-C and UV-B Penetration to Earth’s Surface:" J. Marvin Herndon, Raymond D. Hoisington, and Mark Whiteside write:

http://www.sciencedomain.org/abstract/23870
Metabunk 2018-04-01 10-27-32.jpg
They get values for UV-C (their readings are shown in the graph above in red and black) that are much higher than found in space (the green line). The graph above is a comparison they make in their paper. I've corrected for the rather misleading log scale they used:

Their readings obviously go wrong below 280 nm.

Herndon's answer to this problem is that his cheap device is right and NASA's satellite measurements for the last couple of decades are wrong.

I asked the manufacturers of the instrumente used, International Light Technologies, about this:

They responded:

(emphasis mine)

So the rise in UV at the bottom of the range is due to the multiplication of noise from stray sunlight multiplied by a function that ramps up for low values of UV.

i.e. it's a graph of the correction function made visible by not filtering out all the other light.

Follow up from ILT:


ILT say the only way to measure UV-C with this instrument is monochromator. This is a type of specialized filter that blocks out all stray light outside of one narrowly defined part of the spectrum. This was not done by Herndon, et. al, which is why they have the peak in UV-C. It's simply the calibration curve added in by the software. No UV-C was detected.

It is unfortunate that the authors of the paper were seemingly unfamiliar with the problems of stray light in measuring UV-C. This is actually a well know problem in the field, and was in fact raised as an issue by of the peer-reviewers of the paper:

http://www.sdiarticle2.org/prh/JGEESI_42/2018/Rev_JGEESI_40245_Bra.pdf
The problem is well known to the manufacturers and experienced users of these instruments. Here's discussion from Instrument Systems, a division of Konica Minolta:
They include this explanatory chart:
upload_2018-4-3_12-19-6.png
Notice the most accurate readings (green) with the scanning double monochromator (as suggested by ILT) are around 0.001. Basically zero.

Herndon, et. al, do mention "stray light"
What they fail to realize is that 0.3% of very bright sunlight is still a lot of stray light falling on the UV-C portion of the sensor.

[Note: this is a summary post of the thread below, original discussion follows]
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Metabunk 2018-04-01 11-27-48.jpg

Here's his problem in a bit more context. The larger blue graph is the actual solar radiation spectrum measured in space. Red and black are his measurements. Above 280 they are quote reasonable, being lower than the raw values above the atmosphere. The also (correctly) drop to zero at around 280. Then at around 250 down to 200 his readings ramp up to 20x times the value found in direct sunlight in space.

Solar irradiance data from:
http://lasp.colorado.edu/lisird/data/whi_ref_spectra

UV data in the 200-400 range comes from the $122 Million SORCE satellite.
http://lasp.colorado.edu/lisird/resources/whi_ref_spectra/docs/WHI_solar_irradiance_results_ver2.pdf

Metabunk 2018-04-01 11-33-10.jpg

Similar errors were early reported on Geoengineering watch.
Geoengineeringwatch are continuing to push this idea:
http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/geoengineering-is-causing-lethal-uv-radiation-exposure/
Again this just looks like sensor noise. They should see how the sensor responds in this range in A) darkness and B) indoor artificial bright light.
 

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skephu

Senior Member.
So the rise in UV at the bottom of the range is due to the multiplication of noise from stray sunlight multiplied by a function that ramps up for low values of UV.

i.e. it's a graph of the correction function made visible by not filtering out all the other light.
Very reasonable explanation. Had Herndon (or his co-author Raymond Hoisington who was responsible for the spectral measurements) consulted the manufacturer, they would have saved themselves from an embarrassing mistake.
But Herndon will never accept this.

Interestingly, this former article on Geoengineeringwatch has been removed:
"A new warning of deadly ozone layer collapse from a former NASA engineer"
http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/...e-layer-collapse-from-a-former-nasa-engineer/
but is archived here: http://archive.is/yKgGQ

The "former NASA engineer" writes that a scientist criticized his results on the basis that the high measured values are caused by stray light:
 
Had Herndon (or his co-author Raymond Hoisington who was responsible for the spectral measurements) consulted the manufacturer, they would have saved themselves from an embarrassing mistake.
According to the above paper he did.

" The initial order to International Light Technologies specified that solar radiation measurements were to be performed with this unit, and that power levels to be measured in μW/cm²/nm.
International Light Technologies provided all training, and feedback analysis of initial data gathered to insure correct measurement process"
 

Tedinoz

New Member
According to the above paper he did.

" The initial order to International Light Technologies specified that solar radiation measurements were to be performed with this unit, and that power levels to be measured in μW/cm²/nm.
International Light Technologies provided all training, and feedback analysis of initial data gathered to insure correct measurement process"
At face value, that would suggest that ILT have represented one thing to the authors, and another to Mick.

However, in this technical paper, the authors disclaim that their technical competence and the reliability of interpretation of their data is/was subject to the prior interpretative/confirming work of others. Further, the results of the authors’ work is of ground-breaking significance. In such a case, would it not have been appropriate that the authors would disclose the details of the “initial data” and the “feedback analysis” for the purposes of ensuring their work could be tested and repeated?

In the circumstances, I suggest that the onus falls on the authors, not ILT, to disclose that information.
 

Ravi

Member
Ah, handheld spectrometers are great! But not at 350nm and lower.. It is well known fact, if they would have the experience using them or any photometric device.. The authors should have asked a photonics engineer first, smh..
 

Tedinoz

New Member
Ah, handheld spectrometers are great! But not at 350nm and lower.. It is well known fact, if they would have the experience using them or any photometric device.. The authors should have asked a photonics engineer first, smh..
Quite possibly this is true. However, the authors claim that
(Para 2 of the Introduction of their paper). So I would be very surprised if they felt that ANY other engineer could be trusted to give them impartial advice, particularly where it would have the effect of rendering their entire paper irrelevant.
 
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Ravi

Member
Quite possibly this is true. However, the authors claim that
(Para 2 of the Introduction of their paper). So I would be very surprised if they felt that ANY other engineer could be trusted to give them impartial advice, particularly where it would have the effect of rendering their entire paper irrelevant.

The paper explains a lot, but just not enough information is given about how the system works and if they (the operators) took care enough to prevent wrong data. The type of instrument they used is used everywhere, in labs and in the field. As I have used these type of spectrometers extensively in labs (I used OceanOptics USB4000), consists of a compact or "folded" optical design, where a small concave mirror is re-imaging the entrance slit via a small grating on a small CCD line-detector (8pix x 1064).

Example: different company, same design:
http://www.avantes.ru/en/spectrometer/opticbanch/avabanch.jpg

I am pretty confident that UV reaching our earth surface is not alarmingly increasing,
it must have been caused by the instrument and/or the way it was used. I do not read in the paper that an expert (from the company) was present during the measurements, which leads me to believe that the measurement went wrong. Possible causes that I remember are:

1-The spectrometer should have a "grating order cut off filter" inside. This is an optical filter, cutting off higher wavelengths than the range the unit measures. This is needed as the (sun) light is very much brighter around 700nm, a wavelength range that still enters the spectrometer and is diffracted by the grating. It will not directly hit the detector, but hit somewhere inside a (black) baffle of a wall. There the problem occurs: the light is scattered inside the unit and the scattering will hit the detector. When this is not taken in account observing the results, it gives a false result.

2-Operation of the software might be wrong. The software has different settings for acquiring data: Absolute or Relative. When the Relative tab is used, the measured data is continuously referenced the the REF data taken earlier. This ratio is a tricky thing: if an angle is changed or the sun has moved somewhat it will immediately result in curves. The UV detectivity of Silicon also is very very low, and therefore a lot of "tricks" are needed to still spectrally observe UV light. Another fact is that the CCD arrays will not give you a larger dynamic range than ±12 bits.

My money is on 1.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I am pretty confident that UV reaching our earth surface is not alarmingly increasing
It think this is perhaps a case where we need to be careful not to understate both the implication of their claim and and the errors in their evidence.

Obviously there is not an increase in UVC reaching the surface. Here's their graph again:
upload_2018-4-6_8-39-28.png

Red&Black is theirs, green is the reference level of incoming solar radiation in space.

They show what is now obvious is the calibration magnification of stray light in the range from 250 nm down to 200nm. This is increasing to 20 as the levels in space, with no filtering, direct from the sun, decrease down to less that 1.

Not only that, but the levels appear to be increasing exponentially as the wavelength gets lower, but in the atmosphere the levels will decrease as the wavelength gets lower. Especially at 200nm, which is the start of "vacuum UV", so-called because it is strongly absorbed by the air - not just by ozone (O3) but by normal atmospheric oxygen (O2). Vacuum UV is used in science in a vacuum chamber, or in a pure nitrogen atmosphere. Here's the absorption rate:
http://www.thespectroscopynet.eu/?Spectrometers:Design_concepts:Extreme_UV


And here to scale:
Metabunk 2018-04-06 08-55-19.jpg

So even if there was no ozone, as they suggest, then the UV would start going down (even more than it does in space), not up, at 200.

AND, if there was no ozone, then where is the UV between 250 and 300? If it were not being blocked by the ozone layer, and if the oxygen was unable to block the much more blockable levels of UV-C below 250, then there would be vastly more UV between 250 and 300 than between 200 and 250.

The are multiple other problems. Why are we not blind? Why has nobody noticed this unusual rise in UV. Why has nobody noticed thousands of tons of coal-fly ash being sprayed in the atmosphere. But these are almost irrelevant - the paper is fundamentally flawed and should never have been published. Let us not give it any more credence than it deserves.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
That is probably for a metre or so, given the context, not the whole atmosphere.
Exactly, if the UV starts to get attenuated in few feet then it's not going to make it through thousands of feet of atmospheric oxygen.

And of course the ozone layer is still there. It's being observed by hundreds of scientists all around the world.
 
Why would anyone try to publish such a spectacularly weird result without first confirming it with other measurement instruments/methods. Anyway, remarkable new findings, even if published in a renowned peer reviewed journal, are most likely just noise.
Was this picked up by any mainstream media? It is unfortunate when that happens since it can undermine the public's confidence in the scientific process. Not until you have several independent teams coming to the same conclusion do you have a result.
 

Ravi

Member
It is striking the group that made the findings, does not FIRST question their data, but directly concludes that it must be the light/atmosphere and not a faulty spectrometer and/or wrong measurement method. When there is huge "database" of measured spectral solar data, originating from many places on earth, measured with all kinds of different instruments, would it not be scientifically correct to doubt your strange findings?
 

Flint

New Member
I agree that stray light is the most likely cause of their short wavelength values. I saw one comment speculating that the journal might retract the paper. As the senior author of the comment on the original D'Antoni paper (ref #28 in the Herndon paper), I naively thought that, by submitting that comment, the journal would think of retracting the paper. However, the editor was remarkably aloof and uninvolved in the controversy, and D'Antoni was permitted to publish a response to my comment (#29), and that was the end of things. The D'Antoni paper had been profiled by Nature Geosciences, and I couldn't get any response from them either. Any ideas how we should proceed with this paper?

One other criticism of this paper is the photo of the tree in NYC. Classic "southwest winter injury." Ask a plant pathologist - I did. On a clear, cold winter day there is enough sunlight (very little UV) which thaws the vascular tissue just under the bark. Sun sets, goes behind a building, etc and the temperature drops quickly, refreezing the vascular tissue. Enough times during a winter and damage as seen in the picture results. That's why orchardists and horticulturalists paint trunks white or wrap them in white paper or perforated white plastic. I do that on my own fruit trees.
 
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skephu

Senior Member.
Any ideas how we should proceed with this paper?
I don't think the journal would retract it, as the publisher seems to be one of those predatory types. However, they would probably publish a commentary, like they did previously with another paper by Herndon:
http://www.sciencedomain.org/abstract/18488
Hopefully they would not charge a fee for a commentary paper.
One other criticism of this paper is the photo of the tree in NYC. Classic "southwest winter injury." Ask a plant pathologist - I did. On a clear, cold winter day there is enough sunlight (very little UV) which thaws the vascular tissue just under the bark. Sun sets, goes behind a building, etc and the temperature drops quickly, refreezing the vascular tissue. Enough times during a winter and damage as seen in the picture results. That's why orchardists and horticulturalists paint trunks white or wrap them in white paper or perforated white plastic. I do that on my own fruit trees.
Wow, that's very interesting, and useful info.
 
I agree that stray light is the most likely cause of their short wavelength values. I saw one comment speculating that the journal might retract the paper. As the senior author of the comment on the original D'Antoni paper (ref #28 in the Herndon paper), I naively thought that, by submitting that comment, the journal would think of retracting the paper. However, the editor was remarkably aloof and uninvolved in the controversy, and D'Antoni was permitted to publish a response to my comment (#29), and that was the end of things. The D'Antoni paper had been profiled by Nature Geosciences, and I couldn't get any response from them either. Any ideas how we should proceed with this paper?

One other criticism of this paper is the photo of the tree in NYC. Classic "southwest winter injury." Ask a plant pathologist - I did. On a clear, cold winter day there is enough sunlight (very little UV) which thaws the vascular tissue just under the bark. Sun sets, goes behind a building, etc and the temperature drops quickly, refreezing the vascular tissue. Enough times during a winter and damage as seen in the picture results. That's why orchardists and horticulturalists paint trunks white or wrap them in white paper or perforated white plastic. I do that on my own fruit trees.
There is a review of ozone absorption cross sections here:
http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/arep/gaw/documents/FINAL_GAW_218.pdf
eg. figure 5 and figure 6.ozone CS.PNG
The absorption must increase towards shorter wavelengths until about 250nm. so there is no chance of the UVC at ground level increasing towards shorter wavelengths anywhere between 300nm. and 250nm. regardless of ozone concentration.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
One other criticism of this paper is the photo of the tree in NYC. Classic "southwest winter injury."
Metabunk 2018-04-13 21-30-08.jpg

Or given that it's in New York City, perhaps it's classic "bike lock injury". There's quite a few possible causes of tree injury.
 

Ravi

Member
I found a great link explaining what I thought was indeed the case: the stray light on the ccd detector due to the compact design of the spectrometer.
The link is from a competitor spectrometer company, but the specifications are the same: the Czerny-Turner Spectrograph.
I used a similar one from OceanOptics, they are really great! But, when not aware of the limitations, it can cause errors.
What happens is that the light from the grating, because it is a folded design, cannot be properly "baffled" to prevent stray light from hitting the detector.
This is why compact spectrometers are more suitable for 400-1000nm. UV is tough.

http://bwtek.com/spectrometer-part-4-the-optical-bench/
 
I found a great link explaining what I thought was indeed the case: the stray light on the ccd detector due to the compact design of the spectrometer.
The link is from a competitor spectrometer company, but the specifications are the same: the Czerny-Turner Spectrograph.
I used a similar one from OceanOptics, they are really great! But, when not aware of the limitations, it can cause errors.
What happens is that the light from the grating, because it is a folded design, cannot be properly "baffled" to prevent stray light from hitting the detector.
This is why compact spectrometers are more suitable for 400-1000nm. UV is tough.

http://bwtek.com/spectrometer-part-4-the-optical-bench/
Another way to skin a cat. Don't know if, or how, they got it wrong as I can't see enough details.Capture.PNG
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id...gUQ6AEIUDAI#v=onepage&q=KCl EU2+ UV-C&f=false
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
One other criticism of this paper is the photo of the tree in NYC. Classic "southwest winter injury." Ask a plant pathologist - I did. On a clear, cold winter day there is enough sunlight (very little UV) which thaws the vascular tissue just under the bark. Sun sets, goes behind a building, etc and the temperature drops quickly, refreezing the vascular tissue. Enough times during a winter and damage as seen in the picture results. That's why orchardists and horticulturalists paint trunks white or wrap them in white paper or perforated white plastic. I do that on my own fruit trees.
I have oak trees, and this morning it looked like one of them was on fire, with smoke pouring out of it.
IMG_2555.gif

From the other side of the tree the "smoke" was invisible:
Metabunk 2018-04-17 08-29-25.jpg

Of course it was just condensation, steam evaporating off the warming tree in the sunlight, and then condensing in the cold air, then evaporating again as it mixed more. We had a slight frost last night. You can quite easily understand how this cycle of freezing and sunlight can lead to injury on the sunward side.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
View attachment 32599

Or given that it's in New York City, perhaps it's classic "bike lock injury". There's quite a few possible causes of tree injury.
yup. wilt disease kinda looks like that.
wd2.JPG wd.JPG

or woodpeckers
birds_woodpecker_gallery_2.jpg

 

Fromage

New Member
Or given that it's in New York City, perhaps it's classic "bike lock injury". There's quite a few possible causes of tree injury.
Looks remarkably like a dead tree.

Taking a photograph of a street tree under such horrid planting conditions as some conclusive proof of anything other than tree stress (or already being dead) is ludicrous.
 

David Coulter

Senior Member.
Sorry, I missed this thread when posted. I work with ground and airborne spectal radiometers all the time. I think Mick got the correct answer at the opening of the thread. Measurements outside the reliable wavelength response of a sensor are suspect. The radiometer setup is also preposterous as it should be aimed at a flatfield reflectance target, e.g. a Spectralon plate. I tend to blame instrument companies that record data outside the region of good signal to noise (SNR) of detectors. I have seen this in long wave (FTIR) instruments that are good in the 9-14 micrometer range but provide measurements down to 2 micrometers wherein the measurements are meaningless using FTIR technology and SNR is in the single digits. I also noted that "sciencedomain.org" is listed in Bealls List of Predatory Journals and Publishers as a pay to publish online journal (https://beallslist.weebly.com/). I have been asked to peer review at some of these dubious journals in fields totally outside my core scientific knowledge.
 
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