al·​be·​do | \ al-ˈbē-(ˌ)dō How to pronounce albedo (audio) \
plural albedos

Definition of albedo

1 : reflective power specifically : the fraction of incident radiation (such as light) that is reflected by a surface or body (such as the moon or a cloud) — compare reflectance
2 : the whitish, spongy inner part of the rind of a citrus fruit : the mesocarp of a hesperidium The trouble with grapefruit is that however carefully you peel it, some of the white stuff always sticks to the fruit. The spongy white tissue, called albedo, is quite bitter, and it clings with the tenacity of lichen.Discover — compare flavedo

Examples of albedo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In summer, owing to the albedo effect—light surfaces reflect heat, dark ones absorb it—the pale grass would stay cooler than the brown shrubs that currently blanket the tundra. Joshua Yaffa, The New Yorker, 10 Jan. 2022 Measured from the Big Bear Solar Observatory in California between 1998 and 2017, the researchers monitored the precise daily, monthly, seasonal, yearly and decadal changes in Earth’s albedo using earthshine. Jamie Carter, Forbes, 6 Dec. 2021 The researchers found no correlation, which means that changes in Earth’s albedo is caused by something on the Earth. Jamie Carter, Forbes, 6 Dec. 2021 According to this research, clouds have a high albedo—similar to snow and ice—but have been largely discounted in many studies examining natural mitigation of climate change. David Kindy, Smithsonian Magazine, 24 Aug. 2021 Anthropogenic warming causes snow and ice caps to melt, which can make Earth’s albedo decrease. Maddie Bender, Scientific American, 18 June 2021 Here, Tp is Earth’s temperature, T☉ is the sun’s temperature, R☉ is the sun’s radius, D is the distance to the sun, and a is Earth’s albedo, or reflectivity. Maddie Bender, Scientific American, 18 June 2021 Because the ice shield covering the Arctic Ocean is actually the centerpiece of an indispensable planetary cooling system, which is maintained by the albedo effect—the reflection of the sun’s heat and radiation back into space. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, 21 Apr. 2021 The albedo effect is particularly acute in the summer, when the Arctic is bathed in 24 hours of sunlight. Matt Simon, Wired, 7 Apr. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'albedo.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of albedo

1860, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for albedo

borrowed from Late Latin albēdin-, albēdō "whiteness, white color," from Latin albus "light-colored, white" + -ēdin-, -ēdō, suffix of abstract nouns; (sense 1) after German Albedo in this sense, borrowed from Latin — more at alb, torpedo

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Cite this Entry

“Albedo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for albedo


al·​be·​do | \ al-ˈbēd-(ˌ)ō How to pronounce albedo (audio) \
plural albedos

Medical Definition of albedo

: the fraction of incident light or electromagnetic radiation that is reflected by a surface or body (as the moon or the skin)

More from Merriam-Webster on albedo

Nglish: Translation of albedo for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about albedo


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