This figure shows the average atmospheric albedo by month of year from March in the year 2000 through to March 2021. Atmospheric albedo is the extent to which solar radiation is reflected by particles in the atmosphere back to space where they are sensed by an instrument on a satellite. The data indicates that more than 30% of the energy of the sun fails to reach the surface of the Earth in December while in August only 28% is lost to space.
Question 1. What are the particles in the atmosphere that could be responsible for reflection of solar radiation and where are they likely to be located?
Question 2. What’s the origin of the anomalous bump in the descent of albedo between February and July?
Question 3. The Earth is closest to the Sun in January and furthest away in July. This makes for a 6% difference in the intensity of solar radiation. What wins out do you think. Would a 3% increase in the proportion of radiation reaching the surface due to less reflection in July compensate for a 6% reduction in the intensity of solar radiation at that time? The Earth as a whole is about 2.5 degrees warmer in one or the other month. Which month? July or January? Why?
Question 4. How does this dynamic relate to Greenhouse theory?
The diagram above traces the evolution of albedo by month over the last two decades.
Question 5 Which month exhibits the biggest short and long term variability?
Question 6. What’s the average interval between peaks in that month?
Question 7. Why is the evolution of albedo in January a mirror image of that in October?
Question 8. Why is September a consistent 91-92% of the figure in November and the evolution of albedo so different in these two months by comparison with adjacent months?
Question 9. Is September setting up for October, November and December or does its pattern indicate an anomalous jerk away from a prevailing pattern? If the latter, what could be causing that jerk?
Question 10. Is this change in albedo, that is different from month to month, likely to be part of the reason for variations in the temperature in a particular season or are there other things that come into play. If so, what are they?
Question 11. Could anything in the Earth system be responsible for the change in albedo that we see here? Is the Earth an Island unto itself or could its atmosphere be influenced by circumstances external to the Earth considering the atmosphere as part of the Earth system? If influenced from the outside environment what part of the Earth is likely to be impacted and in which season?
The diagram above traces the evolution of departures from the monthly average atmospheric albedo and average monthly global temperature for the period 2000 through to 2021. Temperature data is from here
Please note that Albedo is on the right hand axis which is inverted. So, an upward movement in the albedo trace represents a decline in the amount of radiation that reaches the surface of the Earth.
Question 12. Is there a relationship between the two? Could the change in albedo be related to the change in temperature in terms of causation? Is there any factor that could reverse the relationship in the short term, i.e temperature rising as albedo increases and vice versa?
Question 13. The temperature curve departs from the albedo curve strongly on at least two occasions. What could be responsible?
Question 14. In what latitude, hemisphere and location is this variation in albedo likely to be most evident?
Feel free to speculate. Don’t feel bad if there are some questions that simply stump you. Just pass them by. I’m going to send a bottle of very nice red wine to the person that, in my opinion, makes the most sense.