Weather Wednesday: Albedo

Weather Wednesday

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Even though winter is the dark season for amount of daylight and cloud cover, that does not mean there is not something bright in the season.  Snow on a cloudy day may make sunglasses essential when outside. 

Snow is very reflective, so it adds more reflective surfaces.  This does not only occur during the day, but snow is also reflective at night.  After fresh snow, it is easy to notice it is brighter outside at night. 

To measure the snow’s reflectivity, a word albedo is brought into the conversation.  Albedo measures how much reflectivity a surface possess.  It is a scale of 0 to 1.  0 would be a black surface and would absorb the light.  That is why it is encouraged to not wear dark colors on hot, sunny days. 1 is the most reflective. Any light hitting a surface high in albedo will spread more light out. 

With fresh snow ranking higher on the albedo scale, streetlights, head lights, or any source of light will shine a bit brighter off the snow and into the dark night. 

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