EFFECT OF ALBEDO ON GLOBAL WARMING


The environment has already been adversely affected by the global climate change. Plants and animal ranges are shifted, glaciers have shrunk and early flowering of trees, all are the impacts of global climate change on the environment. Global warming occurs when carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases along with other air pollutants collect in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that were reflected back from the earth’s surface. Whereas Albedo is the amount of solar radiation that is reflected by some surface, and is often expressed as a percentage or a decimal value.

DEFINITION OF ALBEDO

Albedo is a measure of how much light that hits a surface is reflected without being absorbed. Something that appears white reflects most of the light that strikes it, indicating a high albedo, while something that looks dark absorbs most of the light that strikes it and has a low albedo. Every object has a different albedo.

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ALBEDO OF OBJECTS

It is important to note that objects with higher albedo are cooler in temperature than the objects having lower albedo. The object having zero albedo is capable of absorbing 100% of the radiation it receives. For instance, a black object has zero albedo and it can absorb 100% radiation it receives, whereas a white object is a perfect reflector. It helps us to know how well a surface reflects solar energy. It is measured on a scale from 0 to 1.

According to the data collected by the CERES instrument aboard the Terra satellite, the Earth’s albedo is in the process of variation due to the natural variations in the climate system. The dramatic variation in the climate system is just because of ice cover, cloud cover and the amount of airborne particles like aerosols from pollution, volcanoes and dust storms, can change the reflectivity on scales from days to years.

ROLE OF CLIMATE ENGINEERING IN STABILISATION OF EARTH’S ALBEDO

The climate engineering or Geo-engineering calculates the wide-ranging manipulation of environmental processes that affect the Earth’s climate. According to experts, greenhouse effect and reduced Earth’s Albedo effect are the prime causes of Global warming. The Greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon through which the solar radiation is trapped in our atmosphere by greenhouse gases, i.e. carbon dioxide, methane, hydrofluorocarbon, nitrous oxide, ozone and water vapour. The ultimate goal of the geo-engineering is to lower the presence of carbon dioxide from the air or decrease the amount of sunlight entering the earth’s surface.

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WAYS TO REDUCE THE PRESENCE OF CARBON DIOXIDE FROM THE ATMOSPHERE

Given below are some of the plans of action as suggested by the experts in order to reduce the presence of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

  • Using carbon-capture technology.
  • Plantation of ‘Artificial trees’ which are actually machines that can absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through plastic polymers.
  • Designing a way to convert cattle grazing grounds into carbon sinks.
  • Converting gaseous carbon to charcoal and burying it underground.
  • Creating Oceans as a large carbon sink by adding huge amount of lime into them.

WAYS TO INCREASE THE EARTH’S ALBEDO

Given below are some of the plans of action as suggested by the geo-engineers in order to increase the Earth’s Albedo.

  • Pouring of white colour on the world’s roofs to increase reflectivity.
  • Spraying of sulphate aerosols into the stratosphere that reflect sunlight back to space.
  • Floating thousands of tiny mirrors in space between Earth and the Sun.
  • Spraying of seawater.

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