Tried and True: Earth’s reflection—Albedo by: Brandon Gillette and Cheri Hamilton

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When viewing objects of different colors, you might notice that some appear brighter than others. This is because light is reflected differently from various surfaces, depending on their physical properties. The word albedo is used to describe how reflective a surface is. The Earth-atmosphere has a combined albedo of about 30%, a number that is highly dependent on local surface makeup, ground cover, angle of incidence, and cloud distribution (Budikova and Hogan 2010). Begin the series of activities described here using the information provided in this background to discuss the very general concept and definition of albedo.

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  • on Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:25 AM

Albedo is defined as the measure of how reflective a surface is. The Earth’s albedo directly affects the amount of sun the Earth absorbs. A totally white object has a 100% albedo while a totally black object has a 0% albedo. This activity uses technology and some everyday equipment to gather data about the Earth’s albedo with and without ice covering. All aspects of the activity are presented as well as websites and other resources. The concept of albedo is then related to issues of global warming of the Earth. This is certainly a unique activity and a unique topic to help students understand global climate change.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:41 PM

The decrease in the highly reflective snow areas of our Earth is having an effect on global temperature. Through a series of activities you can engage your middle level students to develop an understanding of albedo which will help to link current events with the science behind the melting ice.

Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton

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