geoengineering explained: the benefits and challenges of albedo enhancement

Albedo is the fraction of the sun’s radiation reflected from a surface. It is quantified as the proportion or percentage of solar radiation of all wavelengths reflected by a body or surface to the amount incident upon it. An ideal white body has an albedo of 100% and an ideal black body is 0%. Albedo enhancement attempts to increase the reflectiveness of clouds, land surfaces, and water so that an increased quantity of the sun’s heat is reflected back into space, ergo albedo enhancement is considered a form of solar radiation management (SRM).



  • The Arctic is cooled, despite being remote from any areas of application, and there is some recovery of sea ice and snow cover
  • Even desert geoengineering is insufficient to return the Arctic sea ice and snow to their pre-industrial conditions
  • Surface albedo modification (SAM) geoengineering gives rise to both near-field and far-field changes in climate
  • Surface albedo modification is strongly seasonal and mostly confined to the areas of application
  • Desert geoengineering produces strong local cooling effects and results in large changes in circulation and precipitation worldwide with a particularly large reduction in the intensity of the Indian and African monsoons
  • The general circulation model is an insufficient tool for predicting the effects of albedo modification schemes
  • Urban and crop geoengineering produce only small to insignificant changes in global average temperatures
  • SAM geoengineering schemes do not offer a full solution to the problems caused by greenhouse gas concentrations, and may, in fact, prove detrimental to the environment

see also:

Question: What is geoengineering?

Albedo Enhancement

Space Reflectors
Stratospheric Aerosols

Ambient Air Capture
Bioenergy Capture and Sequestration
Ocean Fertilization
Enhanced Weathering
Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement

Budikova, D. (2013). Albedo. Retrieved from The Encyclopedia of Earth:
Peter Irvine, D. J. (2011). Climatic effects of surface albedo geoengineering. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. Retrieved from