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ECV T8 Albedo
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T7-Frost | T8-Albedo | T9-Land | T10-fAPAR | T11-LAI | T12-Biomass | T13-Fire |


Surface albedo is both a forcing variable controlling the climate and a sensitive indicator of environmental degradation. Albedo varies in space and time as a result of both natural processes (e.g. changes in solar position, snowfall and vegetation growth) and human activities (e.g. clearing and planting forests, sewing and harvesting crops, burning rangeland) (GCOS, 2004). Since albedo depends on both the unique anisotropy of the surface (related to the intrinsic composition and structure of the land cover) and the atmospheric condition at any time, remote sensing offers the only viable method of measuring and monitoring the global heterogeneity of albedo (Schaaf et al. 2006).

ECV albedo standards report

As requested by UNFCCC SBSTA/COP for its 23rd Session in Montreal, November 2005, GTOS is undertaking the assessment of the status of the development of standards for each of the essential climate variables in the terrestrial domain. The following report, documentation and other material have been compiled for albedo. We very much welcome your comments and inputs in improving and completing the analysis. Please send any material and comments to the GTOS Secretariat.


Download report PDF, 0.86 Mb, 1 November 2009


Listed below are the major references that have been identified in regards to methodology and standards for albedo. Please inform us if you are aware of any other documentation or material which could be considered.

Baret, F., Schaaf, C., Morisette, J., and Privette, J. 2005. Report on the Second International Workshop on Albedo Product Validation. The Earth Observer 17 (3): 13-17.

Barnsley, M., Lewis, P., Disney, M., Thackrah, G., Quaife1, T., Shaw, J., Rebelo, L., Roberts, G., Hobson, P., and Muller, J-P. 2002. MOD43 Validation: UK Activities. CEOS/WGCV Land Product Validation Workshop on Albedo, Boston University, October 2002. See document

GCOS. 2004. Implementation plan for the Global Observing System for Climate in support of the UNFCCC. Report GCOS – 92 (WMO/TD No. 1219). 136p.

GCOS. 2006. Satellite- based products for climate. Supplemental details to the satellite- based component of the “Implementation Plan for the Global Observing System for Climate in Support of the UNFCCC”, GCOS-107 (WMO/TD No. 1338). 90p.

Ohmura A., Dutton, E., Forgan, B., Frohlich, C., Gilgen, H., Hegne, H., Heimo, A., Konig-Langlo, G., McArthur, B., Muller, G., Philipona, R., Whitlock, C., Dehne, K., and Wild, M. 1998. Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN/ WCRP): New precision radiometry for climate change research. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 79: 2115-2136.

Rosch, A. 2005. Status of BSRN: database and FTP file archive. CEOS/ WGCV/Land Product Validation Workshop on Albedo Products, Vienna, April 27. See document

Schaaf, C., Strahler, A., Martonchik, J., Charlock, T., Rutan, D., Zeng, X., Liang, S., Chopping, M., Lyapustin, A., and Rossow, W. 2006. Global land surface albedo and anisotropy. See document

Trishchenko, A. P., Luo, Y., Khlopenkov, K., Latifovic, R., Park, W.B., Wang, S., Li, Z., and Cribb, M. 2005. Surface albedo for ARM over Southern Great Plains. 2nd CEOS/WGCV/LPV Workshop on Albedo Products, April 27-28, 2005, Vienna, Austria. See document

WMO. 2006. Guide to Meteorological Instruments and Methods of Observation. Preliminary seventh edition. Report WMO-No. 8, Geneva, Switzerland.

Relevant Web links

Listed below are relevant inks to albedo. New links are welcome.

Under development

TEMS variables and T-sites

The Terrestrial Ecosystem Monitoring Sites (TEMS) database contains details on ecological variables and research sites which are undertaking ecological measurements.


We would like to thank the following individuals for having provided inputs and comments to this report.

. Josef Cihlar
. Alan Belward


We welcome your inputs, comments and queries. Please send feedback to the GTOS Secretariat.

The above activities are part of Task Number CL-06-03 of the GEOSS implementation plan of GEO.

T1-River | T2-Water Use  | T3-Ground Water | T4-Lake | T5-Snow | T6-Galciers |
T7-Frost | T8-Albedo | T9-Land | T10-fAPAR | T11-LAI | T12-Biomass | T13-Fire |
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© FAO   ::   Global Terrestrial Observing System - GTOS   ::   11 November 2009