by Laurent Cousineau
Albedo is the amount of solar radiation reflected from an object or surface, usually expressed as a percentage.
In the context of climate change, albedo is the fraction of solar energy that is reflected from the Earth into space.
Notably, ice/snow has a high albedo and hence, a large percentage of the sunlight will be reflected back into space instead of being absorbed.
This important characteristic of ice/snow is displayed through its white colour.
Essentially, a substance that we perceive to have a white colour reflects all light.
Therefore, ice and snow cools the Earth as it causes less of the sun's heat to be absorbed.
Ice-Albedo Feedback Loop
Unfortunately, as more ice melts due to global warming
, there will be less sunlight reflected away and consequently, there will be even more warming.
This phenomenon is referred to as a feedback loop
For more information on feedback loops, please see climate feedback