Earth's albedo variations 1998-2014 as measured from ground-based earthshine observations

E. Palle, P. R. Goode, P. Montañés-Rodríguez, A. Shumko, B. Gonzalez-Merino, C. Martinez Lombilla, F. Jimenez-Ibarra, S. Shumko, E. Sanroma, A. Hulist, P. Miles-Paez, F. Murgas, G. Nowak, S. E. Koonin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Earth's albedo is a fundamental climate parameter for understanding the radiation budget of the atmosphere. It has been traditionally measured not only from space platforms but also from the ground for 16 years from Big Bear Solar Observatory by observing the Moon. The photometric ratio of the dark (earthshine) to the bright (moonshine) sides of the Moon is used to determine nightly anomalies in the terrestrial albedo, with the aim of quantifying sustained monthly, annual, and/or decadal changes. We find two modest decadal scale cycles in the albedo, but with no significant net change over the 16 years of accumulated data. Within the evolution of the two cycles, we find periods of sustained annual increases, followed by comparable sustained decreases in albedo. The evolution of the earthshine albedo is in remarkable agreement with that from the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System instruments, although each method measures different slices of the Earth's Bond albedo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4531-4538
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 16 2016


  • aerosol
  • albedo
  • climate
  • clouds
  • earthshine
  • radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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