Marek Ranis

Albedo was inspired by the dramatic collapse of a part of the Larsen Ice Shelf (Larsen B) in 2002. The Larsen Ice Shelf is a long shelf of ice in the northwestern part of the Weddell Sea of the Antarctic Penninsula from Cape Longing to just south of Hearst Island. This natural phenomenon had been a stable feature of the continent for about 12,000 years --essentially the entire Holocene Period --since the last Ice Age. During the early months of 2002 the B sector collapsed and broke apart. 3,250 kilometers of ice 220 meters thick disintegrated; an area comparable to the size of the state of Rhode Island disappeared in a single season.


Albedo (Latin: white) is the measure of reflectivity of a surface or body. It is a ratio of electromagnetic radiation reflected to the amount incident upon it. For example, a sheet of white paper has albedo of 1; a sheet of black paper has albedo 0. Currently the earth's albedo is 0.3 and decreasing as a result of global warming and diminishing areas of snow and ice. This process further accelerates the warming of the planet, as the dark surfaces of oceans and mountains, which once were snow and ice, absorb more solar energy.

 
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