Low, thick clouds primarily reflect solar radiation and cool the surface of the Earth. High, thin clouds primarily transmit incoming solar radiation; at the same time, they trap some of the outgoing infrared radiation emitted by the Earth and radiate it back downward, thereby warming the surface of the Earth.
Do clouds absorb infrared radiation?
The greenhouse effect is not only produced by the greenhouse gases, clouds absorb long wavelength (infrared) radiation from the surface of the Earth and radiate some of it back down. Clouds also have a major role in reflecting some of the Sun’s short wavelength (visible light) radiation back into space.
Do clouds reflect the Sun’s radiation?
In both images, the clouds are reflecting the Sun’s incoming visible light and the near-infrared. Using the Blackbody Radiation software, the Sun emits about 10% ultraviolet, 45% visible light, and 45% near-infrared, so clouds are reflecting a great deal of the incoming Sun’s radiation back to space so it can’t warm the Earth’s surface.
So the clouds don’t absorb light. Specular reflection is when a ray of light is reflected in one precise direction. Obviously, reflection off of a droplet can’t be specular reflection. Especially not when the droplet is smaller than the wavelength of light!
When a cloud absorbs longwave radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface, the cloud reemits a portion of the energy to outer space and a portion back toward the surface.
Do clouds reflect light?
Clouds, especially, low, thick clouds, reflect incoming sunlight (shortwave radiation) back to space. High clouds reflect less solar radiation and trap longwave, infrared radiation (heat) re-radiated from Earth’s surface. Absorbed radiation is transformed into heat. How do clouds affect sunlight?
Another frequently asked query is “What is the nature of the light reflected from clouds?”.
Their appearance is dominated by the nature of the light reflected from them. “Black” clouds appear dark because there’s deep cloud above them that blocks the sunlight. If a white object is in white light, what reflects and what absorbs? A white object reflects all colors of white light equally.
How reflective are clouds in Nir?
Notice clouds are highly reflective. Same image of clouds and coastline in near-infrared (NIR). The clouds are still very reflective. Cirrus consists of tiny ice crystals, so they form at high altitudes where is it frigid.
Clouds have no inherent color. Their appearance is dominated by the nature of the light reflected from them. “Black” clouds appear dark because there’s deep cloud above them that blocks the sunlight. If a white object is in white light, what reflects and what absorbs?
How do clouds affect the albedo?
Because a cloud usually has a higher albedo than the surface beneath it, the cloud reflects more shortwave radiation back to space than the surface would in the absence of the cloud, thus leaving less solar energy available to heat the surface and atmosphere.
Yet another inquiry we ran across in our research was “How do cirrus clouds affect the atmosphere?”.
Like clear air, cirrus clouds absorb the Earth’s radiation and then emit longwave, infrared radiation both out to space and back to the Earth’s surface. Because cirrus clouds are high, and therefore cold, the energy radiated to outer space is lower than it would be without the cloud (the cloud greenhouse forcing is large).