This question about atmospheric refraction of visible light was recently closed as off-topic because "it belongs on physics". While it would fit on physics I also feel that it is on-topic here, and should not have been closed. Much of atmospheric science is on-topic on physics but being on topic somewhere else does not make it off-topic here. Our scope exists independent of the other stack exchange sites.

Do we want a question like this here or do we want to turn them away? If they belong on physics instead of here, where is the the metric that decides that ?

I'd cast a reopen vote on the question but I do not want to unilaterally act without posing this to the community for consensus.


There is no such thing as a dividing line between questions which are on topic on Earth Science or other SE sites. The sets of on topic questions for individual sites simply overlap. There are five categories of questions (which desire different treatment):

  • On topic on Earth Science only => Answer
  • On topic on Earth Science and other SE sites => Answer
  • On topic on other SE sites only => Move
  • Off topic on all SE sites, but suitable for SE format => Close (comment regarding Area 51)
  • Not suitable for the SE format => Close (comment regarding format)

The specific question asked for is about radiation in the atmosphere and clearly on topic according our help center. It would be on topic on Physics SE as well, but there is no reason to move it over there.

  • $\begingroup$ This sums up my thoughts well. To be clear, a question being on-topic elsewhere is not a sufficient condition to be off-topic here. $\endgroup$ – casey Feb 6 '16 at 17:28

I raised a flag on Physics SE stating that this question should be on ES SE . Am I wrong ?


  • 3
    $\begingroup$ That is an example of a Q that would work on either site. It was well received there and answered so it is fine to stay there. I'd argue against moving questions in either direction unless they are off-topic for the site they were posted on. $\endgroup$ – casey Feb 6 '16 at 1:55
  • $\begingroup$ @casey - what about mathematical techniques required for Earth Science problems ? You remember the question that I asked on vertical coordinate. I so far did not receive a satisfactory answer. Is it too much to ask a physicist to understand the nuances of the Math behind vertical coordinates ? $\endgroup$ – gansub Feb 6 '16 at 2:00
  • $\begingroup$ @casey - I am presuming geophysicists and meteorologists would be familiar with tensor analysis and multivariate calculus. So would it be off topic here ? $\endgroup$ – gansub Feb 6 '16 at 2:02

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .