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What is albedo and how is it important in understanding global climate change?

What is albedo and how is it important in understanding global climate change?

The overall albedo of the Earth – measured to be 0.30 – has a significant effect on the equilibrium temperature of the Earth as it changes how much solar energy is reflected by the Earth as opposed to how much is absorbed. This changes how Earth’s energy budget balances and thus changes Earth’s heat balance.

What is the concept of albedo?

In the strictest sense, albedo—or whiteness—is defined as the proportion of light reflected from a surface. In particular, planetary albedo helps determine Earth’s average temperature. If albedo rises (meaning that more light gets reflected back to space), all other things staying equal, our planet gets a tad cooler.

What is an example of albedo?

Albedo is the measure of the reflectivity of a material. An example of a high albedo material is snow and ice. One of the reasons why snow and ice can hang around for a long time after they have fallen in winter is that they are white (and so absorb no or little sunlight) and have a reflective quality as well.

How does albedo affect climate?

Understanding how much energy from the Sun is reflected back out to space and how much is absorbed becoming heat is important for understanding climate. If Earth’s climate is colder and there is more snow and ice on the planet, albedo increases, more sunlight is reflected out to space, and the climate gets even cooler.

What is albedo and why is it important?

Albedo is the reflectivity of a surface. A surface that has a high albedo reflects a lot of solar radiation from the sun back into the atmosphere, whilst a surface that has a low albedo reflects little solar radiation, absorbing it instead.

What has an albedo of 1?

A value of 1 means the surface is a “perfect reflector” that reflects all incoming energy. The sea ice absorbs less solar energy and keeps the surface cooler. Snow has an even higher albedo than sea ice, and so thick sea ice covered with snow reflects as much as 90 percent of the incoming solar radiation.

What is the cause of albedo effect?

The albedo effect on land. Albedo is an expression of the ability of surfaces to reflect sunlight (heat from the sun). Light-coloured surfaces return a large part of the sunrays back to the atmosphere (high albedo). Dark surfaces absorb the rays from the sun (low albedo).

What happens if albedo decreases?

The lower the albedo, the more radiation from the Sun that gets absorbed by the planet, and temperatures will rise. If the albedo is higher, and the Earth is more reflective, more of the radiation is returned to space, and the planet cools. More sunlight is absorbed in the area and the temperatures increase.

Why is high albedo important?

White surfaces (such as ice) have high albedos, whilst black, dark surfaces (such as rocks) have low albedos. This is important in terms of climate change because ice has a high albedo, and so reflects most solar radiation back into the atmosphere, meaning the ice remains cold.