Science, Climate change: the albedo effect

Tutoring high school science, you may be asked about the albedo effect. The tutor explains it simply.

Albedo means loss of incoming radiation due to reflection. Light and heat are examples of radiation (see my previous post).

Regarding Earth’s climate, the albedo effect refers to the idea that sunlight that reflects from Earth doesn’t heat it. The greater Earth’s albedo, the less heat Earth absorbs from the sun. If Earth’s albedo decreases, it will absorb more of the sun’s rays, so will heat up. This is the simple way of applying the albedo effect.

Polar ice caps, covered in white snow, are quite reflective. However, as the ice caps melt, they expose rock and ocean, which are potentially much less reflective. Hence, Earth’s temperature could rise from the melting of the ice caps because of a corresponding reduction of the albedo effect.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Astronomy: meteor, meteoroid and meteorite: what’s the difference?

Tutoring science, meteors and their kin might arise. The tutor defines meteor, meteoroid, and meteorite.

A meteor is the streak of light you might see in the sky at night, when matter travelling through space enters Earth’s atmosphere.

The rock, or whatever matter arrives, is typically travelling at high speed. The air friction it encounters in the atmosphere heats it up, usually to evaporation – but not always. However, it gets so hot it glows, which is what you observe.

The object itself, arriving in Earth’s atmosphere and glowing, is a meteoroid.

Any part of the meteoroid that lands on Earth’s surface becomes a meteorite. As I understand, meteoroids rarely manage to become meteorites.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.