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Archive for July 2011

Discoball Earth

EarthPlanet Earth is like a discoball, reflecting and bouncing off some of the incoming sunlight back to space. The Earth's climate and weather is driven by how much light and radiation is reflected and how much is absorbed and hence goes into warming the surface and atmosphere. Join us this episode and hear all about albedo (which is a way of describing how reflective a surface is) and how that is linked to climate and climate feedbacks. Also don't miss the interview with aerosol guru Prof Hugh Coe who explains how particles in the air can be both reflective and absorbing and how that makes it all more complex!The above picture shows how some parts of the Earth's surface or atmosphere are more reflective than others, e.g. clouds are bright, ice/snow (see Antarctica at the bottom of the image) are white and reflective, the desert and desert dust are brighter than the darker blue ocean and darker than the equatorial forests in Africa and South America. Just check out the massive big dust storm over the ocean off the coast of North-West Africa! The image gives a good impression of the mosaic of different brightnesses and how parts of that mosaic are constantly changing, with e.g. clouds, dust storms etc. forming and dissipating all the time.Here are the links we mentioned in the news section of this episode:Uniweather - UniWeather is not accessible to the general public at this time unfortunately. If you are a member of the university community and you would like access then please contact Dr David Schultz.Satellite images of Chilean snowfall & Video of Chilean snowfallKeep updated on the hurricane season at the National Hurricane CenterAbove picture credit: NASA websiteFeaturing: Grant Allen, Will Morgan, Jennifer Muller, Hugo Ricketts & Niall RobinsonInterviewee: Professor Hugh CoeProduction: Jennifer Muller

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