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Albedo

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In the context of astronomy, Albedo is defined as the amount of solar radiation that is reflected away from the surface, compared to the absorbed amount (Karttunen et al. 2007). Albedo is measured on a scale ranging from zero to one. The albedo score of a surface that is perfectly reflective is one (1), while that of perfectly dark object is zero (0). The albedo is a significant concept in astronomy and climatology, and in computer vision and graphics. However albedo does not influence anything at high latitudes during the season of winter.

The earth’s mean overall albedo varies from 30 percent to 35 percent due to cloud cover, but can also vary locally over the earth’s surface depending on environmental and geological features (Burroughs, 2007). The earth’s surface absorbs more electromagnetic radiation from the sun when the albedo is low such that the temperatures will go up.  When the albedo on the earth’s surface is high, more radiation from the sun will be reflected back into the atmosphere and therefore temperatures go down.  Because albedo varies from place to place depending on the environmental features, albedo in urban areas must be different from albedo in rural areas. Therefore temperatures differ between rural and urban areas.    

According to Letcher (2009), in urban areas temperatures tend to be low as compared to temperatures in rural areas because albedo is high in urban areas and low in rural areas. There is a lot of vegetation cover in most rural areas as compared to urban areas. Trees are darker than the bare ground and therefore rural areas experience low albedo, resulting into increased temperatures during any given day. Establishment of many buildings very close to one another within a given place turns the place into an urban area. In the process of establishing buildings, trees are cut down and therefore reducing the vegetation cover. Places with reduced vegetation cover experiences high albedo and therefore low temperatures are experienced during any given day. The shining buildings in urban areas also reflect most of the solar radiation back into the atmosphere.

Apart from the influence of albedo, temperatures will lower in urban areas than in rural areas because of other factors such as presence or absence skyscrapers. Urban areas are characterized by the presence of skyscrapers which block the sun’s radiation from reaching the earth’s surface therefore reduced daily temperatures. In rural areas most of the sun’s radiation reaches the earth’s surface and absorbed (Burroughs, 2007). Therefore rural areas experience higher temperatures that urban areas during any given day.

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