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What is the Earth's albedo?

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The albedo of Earth is the percentage of sunlight it reflects back into outer space. Scientists believe this is about 31 percent overall. Generally, sunlight that strikes light-colored objects on the planet, such as snow or ice, can have an albedo of up to 90 percent.

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What is the Earth's albedo?
Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center CC-BY-2.0

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Conversely, a dark-colored object, such as a highway paved with asphalt, can have an albedo as low as 5 percent.

The albedo of certain areas of the Earth can affect the quality of life there. The low albedo of cities makes them hotter than the surrounding countryside. Albedo also affects climate, weather and ocean currents.

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