About this datasetWhen sunlight reaches the Earth’s surface, some of it is absorbed and some is reflected. The relative amount (ratio) of light that a surface reflects compared to the total sunlight that falls on it is called albedo. Surfaces that reflect a lot of the light falling on them are bright, and they have a high albedo. Surfaces that don’t reflect much light are dark, and they have a low albedo. Snow has a high a albedo, and forests have a low albedo.
What do the colors mean?
These maps show albedo on a scale from 0 (no incoming sunlight being reflected) to 0.9 (nearly all incoming light being reflected). Darker blue colors indicate that the surface is not reflecting much light, while paler blues indicate higher proportions of incoming light are being reflected. Black areas indicate “no data,” either over ocean or because persistent cloudiness prevented enough views of the surface. Our planet’s brightest surfaces (highest albedos) are ice caps, glaciers, and snow-covered ground. Deserts also have high albedos. Forests have low albedos, especially boreal forests during summer months.
ATBD (Algorithm Theoretical Basis Document)
Images by Reto Stöckli, NASA’s Earth Observatory Group, using data provided by the MODIS Land Science Team.
Federal Geographic Data Committee Geospatial Metadata
View the FGDC Metatdata for Albedo (16 day)