Earth Sciences Push Radiative Transfer Theory: 2009 International Conference on Advances in Mathematics, Computational Methods, and Reactor Physics; Saratoga Springs, New York, 4–7 May 2009



The theories of radiative transfer and particle—particularly neutron—transport are grounded in distinctive microscale physics that deals with either optics or particle dynamics. However, it is not practical to track every wave or particle in macroscopic systems, nor do all of these details matter. That is why Newton's laws, which describe individual particles, are replaced by those of Euler, Navier-Stokes, Maxwell, Boltzmann, Gibbs, and others, which describe the collective behavior of vast numbers of particles. And that is why the radiative transfer (RT) equation is used to describe the flow of radiation through geophysical-scale systems, leaving to Maxwell's wave equations only the task of providing the optical properties of the medium, be it air, water, snow, ice, or biomass. Interestingly, particle transport is determined by the linear transport equation, which is mathematically identical to the RT equation, so geophysicists and nuclear scientists are interested in the same mathematics and computational techniques.