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Albedo and Insolation

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INTRODUCTION

This whole assignment is about the differential heating of air, land, and water including the effects of albedo and insolation currently seen in the Arctic, where ice loss occurs every summer. Insolation is basically the incoming solar radiation received on earth's surface, but albedo on the other hand is the ratio of light reflecting off of earth's surface. Although these are two different topics, albedo and insolation both affect earth's climate. Insolation is effected by three factors which are the angle of sunlight, time of day, and time of year. During summer months, the poles or high latitudes actually get more solar energy than low latitudes. Also, the sun is farthest from earth during the summer in the northern hemisphere, but closer to earth during summer in the southern hemisphere. This will lead to albedo change being enhanced in the southern hemisphere. Albedo will vary because when seasons change, so does the characteristics of the earth surfaces. High albedo will keep the Polar Regions cold, because the sun rays reflected back to space does not warm the earth's surface. Also, sea ice reflects about 50 percent of incoming solar radiation which prevents it from heating much faster than ocean water. Even though, when the ice starts to melt, ponds of water start to form. When these ponds start to grow and deepen, the albedo will start to decrease, allow more solar radiation to be absorbed thus increasing the melting rate. All of this information is why there is greater ice loss in summer in the Arctic due to the effects of albedo and insolation.

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