Altering Albedo

Albedo is the amount of sunlight which is reflected/absorbed by anything whether on the surface or at different levels of the atmosphere. Ideally we want the highest albedo possibly, and current we are relatively low at 0.15, with the aim to increase it to 0.17, where temperatures would no longer increase but would remain stable.

This can be done through various means and is known as Solar Radiation Management (SRM), and is monitored at three levels (surface, troposphere, and stratosphere). At the surface level it is monitored through remote sensing satellites such as the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), which monitors the land at a 1km scale resolution, pinpointing colours, and how much light they absorb / reflect.

The main problem is that the ocean has a very low albedo, absorbing the majority of light due to its dark coloured nature, and its wide-spread coverage of the Earth therefore does not aid our albedo efforts. Another negative effect is that as global warming continues (which it will), we lose even more ice, which has a very high albedo, as you know if you’ve ever been skiing by the amount of light it reflects, and hence acts as a domino effect, reducing our albedo further. The last and final problem is the cost of implementing it, with urban areas covering less than 2% of land cover, we cannot purely focus on retrofitting green cities, but instead must focus on larger land cover such as grassland which covers around 40%. The main question, is how to do this?

There are various methods being used, for example whitening clouds to reflect more sunlight before it reaches the surface. However other than that there is no widespread idea of how to manage and increase our albedo. Therefore I have came up with my own idea, which apart from using white roofs on industrial buildings, but move it over to agricultural land. The use of white polytunnels is quite common in some areas, however is often used minimally. If they could be used on a more widespread scale, with the possible implementation of subsidies to ensure farmers could afford it, then it could have a huge effect on our global albedo, hopefully increasing it slightly, even an increase of 0.001 could have a huge influence.