Scientists: Enhancing Earth’s Surface Reflectiveness 32x More Effective Than Eliminating GHG Emissions

Adding reflectors to roofs and pavements and similar strategies could globally reflect 87 W/m² more incoming solar radiation than is reflected on an annual basis currently, cooling the surface. In contrast, the sum of the accumulated annual anthropogenic radiative forcing from greenhouse gases (GHG) since 1750 is 2.72 W/m².

A new study analyzes the effectiveness of global warming reduction strategies via albedo modification – enhancing the reflection of incoming solar radiation – using reflectors on roofs and pavements, shade structures, foam water covers, and landscape modification.

The authors suggest that while the background reflected solar radiation is 21.7 W/m² globally (per ERA5 observations), these proposed surface albedo modifications could enhance the annual global outgoing solar radiation by 87 W/m² – to 109 W/m². This is “a factor of five larger” than the unaltered reflectivity. In some localities – especially in cities – the reduction of global warming potential through albedo modification could be over 200 W/m².

Meanwhile, the authors point out that the sum of the accumulated annual anthropogenic radiative forcing since 1750 is 2.72 W/m², a warming effect applied to the reduction of outgoing longwave radiation. Reducing the annual incoming solar radiation by 87 W/m² more than the background rate would thus have a 32 times larger impact on Earth’s radiation imbalance than all the accumulated forcing from anthropogenic GHG emissions.

Considering 40 years of governmental policies designed to reduce GHG emissions and transition to a “green” energy future have only meant that “global net emissions continue to rise” anyway, an albedo modification strategy that could eliminate (and then some) the impact of anthropogenic emissions altogether would appear to be the wiser approach.

This assumes the intent of governments’ GHG mitigation policies is actually to reduce the positive energy imbalance and thus global warming. Is it?

Image Source: Smoliak et al., 2022

17 responses to “Scientists: Enhancing Earth’s Surface Reflectiveness 32x More Effective Than Eliminating GHG Emissions”

  1. Curious George

    Deploy a lot of reflectors, and a big army to keep them clean ..

  2. John Hultquist

    A few years ago, there was a suggestion to paint everything white.
    An exercise that could start and never finish.
    Another idea was for roads to be made of solar panels. They needed to be tougher than hardened steel. They weren’t.

    I did put white-ish shingles on my roof. Shortly after, the global warming “pause” started and Moncton has posted 97 times on it.

  3. Richard Greene

    “Adding reflectors to roofs and pavements”

    Structures with roofs cover only a tiny percentage of our planet’s surface.
    Who would keep those reflectors clean?
    Pavement reflectors would get dirty and wear out quickly.

    This sounds like an expensive pipedream to me.
    Mr Richard’s choice of studies to publicize remains puzzling.

  4. Ben Vorlich

    Would it reduce UHI and Airport effects thereby negating the problem of badly sited waether stations and bringing about an apparent cooling

  5. David L Walker

    Someone really really wants a glaciation event!

  6. pochas94

    Build a cube with a mirror roof. Measure inside and outside ambient and surface temperatures, for about 5 years, then get back to us.

  7. Zoe Phin

    This would of course do nothing for surface thermometers 2 meters above the ground.

    This is a stupid waste of money, unless it can be shown that it reduces air conditioning costs for homes.

    We know some nations that are dominated by WHITE buildings (Bermuda, for example), and it’s probably not by accident.

    So maybe it’s not a terrible idea – if economics supports it.

    1. Richard Greene

      Surround all land based weather stations with reflectors aimed at the Stevenson screens to turbocharge global warming. Could be a Nobel Prize for this suggection,

  8. S.K.

    Please don’t give the alarmists any more ideas on how to waste amy more of my tax dollars. We may be heading into a grande solar minimum and there are no reasons to be exploring ways to cool the planet.

  9. Michael Peinsipp

    The ‘normal’ for Earth is 1376 Wm2.
    Locally in KY we have gotten +- 1000 Wm2.
    Now they say a drop of just 24 Wm2 – 1376 down to 1373 Wm2 causes cooling.
    So what will 350 +-Wm2 less do to Earths Climate…ICE AGE ANYONE?!!!?
    You know WHAT controls the PLANETS (Plural – Mercury to Pluto) climate?
    That big ass ball of plasma in the sky called Sol…the SUN!
    And the Sun is ‘taking a nap’ you might say cuz it’s output has dropped.
    Enjoy and buy warm…er clothes!

  10. Tom Anderson

    The nagging weakness in the opposition to the CAGWH is failure to affirmatively advance the probability that CO2 does not warm but cools. Freeman Dyson, no minor physicist of the period, repeatedly objected that it was a cooling gas, concluding his remarks with ‘”nobody listens to old people.” It may be time to listen.

    1. CO2’s peak radiant interaction with solar irradiance is at minus 80 Celsius (193.13K). It is visible in satellite images, but the temperature seems never referred to.

    2. Fossil fuel combustion produces offsetting aerosols such that a 1971 NASA study hoping CO2 would warm, concluded that aerosol cooling offset, and must eventually overwhelm, warming. The paper called fossil fuel combustion a “coolant.”

    3. CO2 is among the atmospheric gases that radiate away incoming solar energy and radiate outgoing surface radiation to space.

    4. Encouraging plant growth it greens the planet, cooling land temperatures, and evapotranspiration adds water vapor for more cooling cloud.

    It may be time to shrug off alarmist charges and develop the arguments that stand up the preponderantly unconfirmed claims of warming. All of it together looks like a viable argument. Why does nobody make it?

    “You gotta accentuate the positive, devaluate the negative, latch on to the affirmative; don’t mess with ‘Mr. In-between.’” Popular ballad of the 1940s.

  11. Tom Anderson

    “Stand up to ‘

  12. The Atmosphere Guy

    I may have mentioned previously that the key factor that is consistently underplayed, is the upper atmosphere’s response to incoming explosive material – CME’s in effect – or the lack of that input. It is well documented that this causes the expansion and contraction of the upper layers – the Thermosphere – what is less well discussed is that the expansion does not just happen in one direction, how could it? Self evidently it expands sideway as well as vertically. This pushes and pulls on the atmospheric structure and profiles at lower levels, manipulating the paths followed by surface level cyclonic activity. Sorry if I’m being a little over simplistic here, but this – during solar quiet times – can result in masses of hot tropical air being thrown unusually far towards the Polar Regions. Hence claims that the poles are “Warming Faster”. Entropic influences then result in that heat being lost to space. We then have the conflict of apparent warming while overall cooling is actually taking place. Interesting confusion! And a good subject for debate over a few beers !

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