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 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, "How 1.5 Degrees Became the Key to Climate Progress," 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, "More Lightning in the Arctic Is Bad News for the Planet," 7 Apr. 2021 Further complicating these feedback loops, more shrubs in turn make for a warmer Arctic thanks to the decreasing reflectance of the landscape, or its albedo. Matt Simon, Wired, "More Lightning in the Arctic Is Bad News for the Planet," 7 Apr. 2021 But in polar regions, snowpack has a similar albedo, or reflectivity, as cloud tops, so an increase in clouds would reflect little additional sunlight. Quanta Magazine, "Cloud-Making Aerosol Could Devastate Polar Sea Ice," 23 Feb. 2021 But could that light curve have instead been produced by a more rounded object with a nonuniform albedo? Scientific American, "Readers Respond to the October 2020 Issue," 26 Jan. 2021 With an average albedo of 4.4 percent, Bennu is one of the darkest objects in the Solar System. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "What is black and gray and far away?," 20 Mar. 2020 The tiny orbiting asteroid, according to Wierzchos's additional tweets, has a diameter between 6.2 and 11.5 feet and has an albedo, or surface brightness, similar to C-type asteroids, which are carbon-rich. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Earth Can Have a New Little Moon, as a Treat," 26 Feb. 2020 The albedo of Venus is close to .7, meaning its thick cloud covering reflects about 70% of the light striking it back into space. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "How to see Venus and a crescent moon side-by-side this Thursday," 27 Feb. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about albedo

Statistics for albedo

Last Updated

1 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Albedo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on albedo

What made you want to look up albedo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!