22 February 2012

The albedo effect

 Albedo means the reflecting power of a surface. The following diagram illustrates the Albedo effect in the atmosphere. Lighter coloured surfaces reflect most of the incoming solar radiation as light which can pass through the greenhouse gases that surround the earth. This means that on light surfaces, like glaciers, most solar radiation reflects back out into space. With increased solar radiation being reflected outside the earth’s atmosphere there is a reduced contribution to global warming.
On the other hand the darker coloured surfaces absorb and re-emitt a lot of the solar radiation as infrared radiation, that stays within the greenhouse gas layer and lower atmosphere, leading to an increase in global warming.

Albedo effect is a system that tends to escalate the already existing temperature change, whether in today's global warming or in times of ice ages.

Diagram picture from: http://www.ecocem.ie/index.php?p=environmental&q=albedo
Albedo photo montage from: http://ureco2.com/article.php?id=29&cid=0&sid=5

Matilda W Lindborg

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