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Utilization of solar radiation by polar animals: an optical model for pelts

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Abstract

A summary of existing passive solar-heat conversion panels provides the basis for a definition of an ideal passive solar-heat converter. Evidence for the existence of a biological greenhouse effect in certain homopolar homeothermic species is reviewed. The thermal and optical properties of homeothermic pelts, in particular those of the polar bear, are described, and a qualitative optical model of the polar bear pelt is proposed. The effectiveness of polar bear and seal pelts as solar-heat converters is discussed, and comparison is made with the ideal converter.

© 1980 Optical Society of America

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