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10 vivid maps that show Earth in a new light

By: Bryan Nelson on Dec. 5, 2014, 8:45 a.m.

Photo: NASA

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Albedo is the ratio of light that Earth's surface reflects compared with the total sunlight that falls on it. On this map, surfaces that reflect more are represented as being brighter. This is an important measurement for understanding the surface of the Earth as it pertains to climate change feedback loops.

It's interesting to note the reflectivity of Africa's vast Sahara Desert. Desertification is one side effect of climate change, but this may be the case of at least one feedback loop that might help counteract global warming. This map shows measurements from August 2014, based on atmospherically corrected, cloud-cleared reflectance observations from the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer sensors on NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites.