AGW Observer

Observations of anthropogenic global warming

Papers on the albedo of the Earth

Posted by Ari Jokimäki on August 17, 2009

This list of papers contains observations of Earth’s albedo, concentrating especially on the possible changes in albedo. The list is not complete, and will most likely be updated in the future in order to make it more thorough and more representative.

UPDATE (November 4, 2009): Loeb et al. (2007) and Loeb et al. (2007) added, thanks to John Cook for pointing them out, see the discussion section below.

Inter-annual variations in Earth’s reflectance 1999-2007 – Palle et al. (2008) Doesn’t find much trends in albedo, although emphasizes a brief 1.5 year long increase in reflectance. “In the common period, earthshine, CERES along with ISCCP-FD data show a trendless albedo. However, preceding CERES, earthshine and ISCCP-FD reflectances show a significant increase before flattening and holding the increase.” [Link to PDF]

Variability in global top-of-atmosphere shortwave radiation between 2000 and 2005 – Loeb et al. (2007) “The ground-based Earthshine data show an order-of-magnitude more variability in annual mean SW TOA flux than either CERES or ISCCP, while ISCCP and CERES SW TOA flux variability is consistent to 40%. Most of the variability in CERES TOA flux is shown to be dominated by variations global cloud fraction, as observed using coincident CERES and MODIS data. Idealized Earthshine simulations of TOA SW radiation variability for a lunar-based observer show far less variability than the ground-based Earthshine observations, but are still a factor of 4–5 times more variable than global CERES SW TOA flux results. Furthermore, while CERES global albedos exhibit a well-defined seasonal cycle each year, the seasonal cycle in the lunar Earthshine reflectance simulations is highly variable and out-of-phase from one year to the next.”

Multi-Instrument Comparison of Top-of-Atmosphere Reflected Solar Radiation – Loeb et al. (2007) “Observations from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES), Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), Multiangle Imaging Spectroradiometer (MISR), and Sea-Viewing Wide-Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWiFS) between 2000 and 2005 are analyzed in order to determine if these data are meeting climate accuracy goals recently established by the climate community. The focus is primarily on top-of-atmosphere (TOA) reflected solar radiances and radiative fluxes. … The results presented in this study are in stark contrast to those of Pallé et al. (2004, 2005) who claim to have observed a 6 Wm-2 increase in annual mean reflected solar radiation between 2000 and 2003 based on Earthshine measurements. … When the global monthly anomalies in CERES Terra SW TOA flux in Fig. 9b are averaged annually, the difference between the minimum and maximum yearly anomalies is 0.6 Wm-2, an order-of-magnitude smaller than the change found in the Earthshine data. Given the remarkable consistency shown here between data records from CERES, MODIS, MISR, SeaWiFS and ISCCP, none of these additional data records support a 6 Wm-2 change between 2000 and 2003.” [Link to PDF]

Comment on ‘‘A multi-data comparison of shortwave climate forcing changes’’ by Pallé et al. – Bender (2006) Gives a nice overview to different albedo measurement techniques while commenting on Pallé et al. work. [Link to PDF]

22 views of the global albedo—comparison between 20 GCMs and two satellites – Bender et al. (2006) Compares climate model simulations to real world observations of Earth’s albedo. “Discrepancies between different data sets and models exist; thus, it is clear that conclusions about absolute magnitude and accuracy of albedo should be drawn with caution.” [Link to PDF]

Changes in Earth’s Albedo Measured by Satellite – Wielicki et al. (2005) “The satellite data show that the last four years are within natural variability and fail to confirm the 6% relative increase in albedo inferred from observations of earthshine from the moon.” [Link to PDF]

Changes in Earth’s Reflectance over the Past Two Decades – Palle et al. (2004) “This proxy shows a steady decrease in Earth’s reflectance from 1984 to 2000, with a strong climatologically significant drop after 1995. From 2001 to 2003, only earthshine data are available, and they indicate a complete reversal of the decline.” [Link to PDF]

Earthshine and the Earth’s albedo: 2. Observations and simulations over 3 years – Pallé et al. (2003) “Since late 1998, we have been making sustained measurements of the Earth’s reflectance by observing the earthshine from Big Bear Solar Observatory. … We find that our precision, with steady observations since December 1998, is sufficient to detect a seasonal cycle.”

Earthshine and the Earth’s albedo: 1. Earthshine observations and measurements of the lunar phase function for accurate measurements of the Earth’s Bond albedo – Qiu et al. (2003) “We have been making sustained observations of the earthshine from Big Bear Solar Observatory in California since late 1998. We also have intermittent observations from 1994–1995. Here, we develop a modern method of measuring, instantaneously, the large-scale reflectance of the Earth.” [Link to PDF]

Estimate of top-of-atmosphere albedo for a molecular atmosphere over ocean using Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System measurements – Kato et al. (2002) “The shortwave broadband albedo at the top of a molecular atmosphere over ocean between 40°N and 40°S is estimated using radiance measurements from the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument and the Visible Infrared Scanner (VIRS) aboard the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite.”

Earthshine observations of the Earth’s reflectance – Goode et al. (2001) “Regular photometric observations of the moon’s “ashen light” (earthshine) from the Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO) since December 1998 have quantified the earth’s optical reflectance. We find large (∼5%) daily variations in the reflectance due to large‐scale weather changes on the other side of the globe. … However, we find seasonal variations roughly twice those of the simulation, with the earth being brightest in the spring.”

Global change and the dark of the moon – Flatté et al. (1992) This is largely a review article. “We have considered the possibility of using earthshine to measure the reflectance properties of the earth (albedo and phase function). Measurements of earthshine carried out by Danjon in 1926-33 show that even then the average albedo could be determined with a precision of +/- 0.01 and that both synoptic and seasonal variations could be observed clearly. We show that, after correction for wavelength dependence and the opposition effect in the lunar reflectance properties, Danjon’s visual albedo of 0.40 can be reconciled with the ERBE satellite Bond albedo of 0.30.” [Link to PDF]

Repetition of Danjon earthshine measurements for determination of long term trends in the earth’s albedo – Huffman et al. (1990) “The authors are investigating the possibility of determining whether changes have occurred in the albedo of the earth due to changes in cloud properties. The method is to reproduce as faithfully as possible the measurements of earthshine made by André Danjon during the period from 1926 to 1935 and continued by J. Dubois from 1940 to 1960. To this end a “cat’s eye” photometer similar to that used by Danjon has been constructed and data taking begun. Analysis for long term trends depends on understanding of geographic effects, seasonal variations, and 10 year variations in earthshine.”

Albedo, color, and polarization of the Earth – Danjon (1954), in The Earth as a Planet, edited by G. P. Kuiper. Presents early albedo measurements by earthshine.

The albedo of the planet Earth and of clouds – Fritz (1949) “The albedo of the whole earth is calculated to be 35 per cent, largely on the basis of Danjon’s visual lunar measurements. The calculations also give a value of about 0.50 for the average albedo of clouds, which is in better agreement with measurements than the currently accepted value.”

Sur l’albedo de la terre – Dubois (1947). (I haven’t found suitable link for this one but some details are given in Qiu et al., 2003, see above.) Presents early albedo measurements by earthshine.

Recherches sur la photométrie de la lumiére cendrée et l’albedo de la terre – Danjon (1928). (I’m not certain that the linked paper is correct, but both the name and the journal reference seem to be similar to what is given in Qiu et al., 2003, see above, they also give some details on this. See also Flatté et al., 1992 for details on this.) Presents early albedo measurements by earthshine.

6 Responses to “Papers on the albedo of the Earth”

  1. […] story at https://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/papers-on-the-albedo-of-the-earth/ « high school football player dies in […]

  2. John Cook said

    Variability in global top-of-atmosphere shortwave radiation between 2000 and 2005 – Loeb et al (2007). Measurements from various instruments and analysis techniques are used to directly compare changes in Earth-atmosphere shortwave (SW) top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiation between 2000 and 2005. Included in the comparison are estimates of TOA reflectance variability from published ground-based Earthshine observations and from new satellite-based CERES, MODIS and ISCCP results. The ground-based Earthshine data show an order-of-magnitude more variability in annual mean SW TOA flux than either CERES or ISCCP, while ISCCP and CERES SW TOA flux variability is consistent to 40%. Most of the variability in CERES TOA flux is shown to be dominated by variations global cloud fraction, as observed using coincident CERES and MODIS data. Idealized Earthshine simulations of TOA SW radiation variability for a lunar-based observer show far less variability than the ground-based Earthshine observations, but are still a factor of 4–5 times more variable than global CERES SW TOA flux results. Furthermore, while CERES global albedos exhibit a well-defined seasonal cycle each year, the seasonal cycle in the lunar Earthshine reflectance simulations is highly variable and out-of-phase from one year to the next. Radiative transfer model (RTM) approaches that use imager cloud and aerosol retrievals reproduce most of the change in SW TOA radiation observed in broadband CERES data. However, assumptions used to represent the spectral properties of the atmosphere, clouds, aerosols and surface in the RTM calculations can introduce significant uncertainties in annual mean changes in regional and global SW TOA flux.

  3. John Cook said

    Multi-Instrument Comparison of Top-of-Atmosphere Reflected Solar Radiation – Loeb et al (2007). Excerpt from Section 5: “The results presented in this study are in stark contrast to those of Pallé et al. (2004,
    2005) who claim to have observed a 6 Wm-2 increase in annual mean reflected solar radiation
    between 2000 and 2003 based on Earthshine measurements. When the global monthly
    anomalies in CERES Terra SW TOA flux in Fig. 9b are averaged annually, the difference
    between the minimum and maximum yearly anomalies is 0.6 Wm-2, an order-of-magnitude
    smaller than the change found in the Earthshine data. Given the remarkable consistency shown
    here between data records from CERES, MODIS, MISR, SeaWiFS and ISCCP, none of these
    additional data records support a 6 Wm-2 change between 2000 and 2003.

  4. Ari Jokimäki said

    Thanks for these, John. I added both to the list.

    First paper had an interesting thing to say about cloud feedback:

    “As a minimum, radiation budget instruments should be stable enough to detect a change in net cloud forcing corresponding to a 25% cloud feedback. A 25% cloud feedback would reduce or amplify the influence of the anthropogenic radiative forcing by the same amount. Estimates of anthropogenic total radiative forcing in the next few decades are 0.6 Wm-2 per decade [IPCC, 2001, Figure 9.13]. A 25% cloud feedback would change cloud net radiative forcing by 25% of the anthropogenic radiative forcing, or 0.15 Wm-2 per decade. The global average shortwave (SW) or solar reflected cloud radiative forcing by clouds is ~50 Wm-2, so that the observation requirements for global broadband radiation budget to directly observe such a cloud feedback is approximately 0.15/50 = 0.3% per decade in SW broadband calibration stability [Ohring et al., 2005]. Achieving this stability per decade in calibration is extremely difficult and has only recently been demonstrated for the first time by the ERBS and CERES broadband radiation budget instruments [Wong et al., 2006; Loeb et al., 2007].”

    It looks like we have some interesting things to look for in near future, cloud feedback might get observationally determined (and we already have some observations on that).

  5. Subject: Global Water Equilibrium and Space Exploration in the Age of Cosmic Genealogy

    Achievable global water equilbrium on Earth is the state of balance between seawater converted to freshwater amply available worldwide on one side and, on the other, constancy in planetary sea levels.

    Mandated and coordinated through the United Nations Security Council, dramatically accelerated, expanded and sustained seawater desalination will ensure (1) relief for member-states vulnerable to sea-level rise, (2) freshwater more than adequate the world over, (3) stabilization of ocean shorelines, (4) enlarged land mass/biomass on Earth, and (5 freshwater deposits where once resided coal and petroleum.

    “The melting of these glaciers (Himalayan “Earth’s Third Pole”) is the most massive threat to food security that we have ever projected.” – Lester Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute.

    Space exploration in the age of cosmic genealogy on Earth focuses appropriately, but not solely, on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) – and on the ongoing Kepler Mission. Launched by NASA in March of 2009 to monitor 100,000 stars for orbiting Earth-size planets, Kepler will be followed by Terrestrial Planet Finder, 2012-2015 and Darwin, 2014. These efforts will add to the 400 exoplanets already discovered, aided by recent breakthrough technology suppressing the light of stars.

    In 1859, Louis Pasteur’s pivotal work disproving spontaneous generation of life began the age of cosmic genealogy on Earth: more pronounced in modern times through scientific research and discovery pioneered and led by the late Sir Fred Hoyle, by N. C. Wickramasinghe, Brig Klyce, Halton Arp, and others.

    “Life comes from space because life comes from life.” – Brig Klyce, Astrobiology Research Trust

    Setting the stage for generational vigilance and refinement of Earth’s surface reflectivity (albedo) relative to solar radiation (for climate stability), global water equilibrium effectively addresses climate change while providing the basic necessity for a compassionate/cooperative world order: freshwater amply available the world over.

    Global water equilibrium (Project Ice-SHARE/Green Earth) and the exploration of space capture the questing spirit of all humanity, with success of the latter tethered to success of the former. http://www.forelawsonboard.net/GlobalWaterEquilibrium.html

    In forelawsship on board,

    Robert E. Cobb
    Forelaws on Board
    http://www.forelawsonboard.net

  6. […] uncertainty regarding this short-term albedo change (i.e. see Wielicki et al. 2005 and many other papers on the subject).  While the CERES data Dr. Pielke references estimated a decrease in the Earth's albedo  […]

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