Saturday, November 12, 2011
GEO #003 - Albedo is not Libido, but just as hot!
Global warming (the more neutral "climate change" if you insist) is a vastly complex subject, and I don't know where to begin. I guess I could do it alphabetically, which is about as good a way as any. So, let me start with the important but oft-unknown term "Albedo".
It has to do with absorption and reflection of light and heat, i.e. Electro-Magnetic Radiation (EMR), by a surface. We all know that a dark surface absorbs more EMR than a light surface, and a perfectly black surfaces absorbs 100% of the EMR and reflects 0%, whereas a perfectly white surface absorbs 0% and reflects 100%. In Albedo lingo, the scale goes from 0% for a perfectly absorbing surface to 100% for a perfectly reflective surface. (Is there such a thing as 100% Libido, I wonder? :)
Ice sheets have an albedo of 85%, meaning that it reflects off 85% of the light and heat incident upon it, and dark ocean water has an albedo of only 7%, meaning that it absorbs 93% of the light and heat incident upon it.
This give Albedo a huge role to play in global climate change.
While Albedo itself has an effect on climate and warming, the ALBEDO FEEDBACK LOOP (AFL) has an even greater role to play. Basically, global warming has resulted in the rapid melting of glaciers around the world, and especially the sea ice atop the Arctic Ocean. Since mid-last-century, the Arctic ice cap has shrunken by half in surface area, as well as in thickness, meaning that it has shrunken by 75% in mass. The other 25% will be gone within years. With less and less ice remaining, and more and more sea water exposed, the Albedo of the Arctic has been decreasing from the original 85%, heading down to 7% when the ice is all gone, at least in the summer when the sun shines upon it. The more the ice diminishes and the water is exposed, the more solar heat is absorbed than reflected, and the faster the ocean warms, and the faster the ice melts, thus the feedback loop, until, suddenly, there is no ice left, at which time global warming will skyrocket.
We have no more than 3 years to fix this problem, or global warming will become RUNAWAY GLOBAL HEATING, out of control.
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)