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.