It's Albedo

Kevin Bian, April 26th, 2014

The Myth: Albedo is a measure of how reflective a surface is. Many people believe that since the albedo levels of earth's surface has risen, thus global warming should be a myth. This myth is used in Anthony Watts article "Earth's Albedo Tells an Interesting Story." Watts believes that global warming is not increasing by stating "the albedo forcings...seem to be fairly large. Larger than that of all manmade greenhouse gases combined." He believes that global warming is actually reversing. It this was true, our understanding of global warming on Earth would be undermined. Scientists have shown that the climate is still experiencing warming and that the radiative forcing from Albedo changes seem to have little effect.

What the Science Really Says: This myth is incorrect because it pulls it's argument that albedo is increasing from faulty data. To measure Earth's albedo, scientists use earthshine, which is the sunlight reflected from the Earth, then reflected from the Moon back to nighttime Earth. According to Palle in 2004, "from 2001 to 2003, only earthshine data are available, and they indicate a complete reversal of the decline" of "Earth's reflectance from 1984 to 2000." However, this contradicated "satellite measurements which showed little to no trend over the same period," and the reason why was discovered in 2008, when, according to Palle 2008, after installing a new telescope in 2004, "all sets have been re-analyzed...and present consistent results" with that of satellite measurements.

Discussion:The myth denies the actual existence of climate change. The author pulled this myth from faulty data which contradicted the current theory of global warming, but does not take into account that this data was refuted later on by more accurate measurements, and follows the Observational Selection in that he only bases his arguments off points that agree with his standing, but ignores ones that refutes his point.


Cook, John. 26 June 2010. “The albedo effect and global warming” Accessed 26 April 2014. Skeptical Science.

Watts, Anthony. 17 October 2007. "Earth's albedo tells an interesting story" Accessed 26 April 2014. Watts Up With That?

Palle, E. 28 May 2004. “Changes in Earth's reflectance over the past two decades” Accessed 26 April 2014. ScienceMag.

Palle, E. 27 October 2008. “Inter-annual variations in Earth's reflectance 1998-2007.” Accessed 26 April 2014. Journal of Geophysical research.

Last modified: 26 April 2014