Albedo Australia    Albedo Australia

Last week's CO2 level at Mauna Loa has been published by N.O.A.A..

There are three main ways to stop global warming and climate change from getting worse and that will, one hopes, enable us to manage our global temperature:-

To reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) To sink carbon from the atmosphere in forests and oceans To reduce solar heating of the lower atmosphere

The first two are well known but the third is not. There are quite a few methods that have been suggested to cool the lower atmosphere by using albedo, a surface or an object's reflectivity, to reflect the Sun's energy and help avoid catastrophic climate change.

Proposals such as whitening clouds, making clouds, covering large areas with white plastic, increasing the albedo of grasses and plants, reflective dust in the upper atmosphere and space shields of various sorts.

So far, the only use of albedo to be advocated by the UN's IPCC, is to increase the solar reflectivity of our cities based upon the work of Hashem Akbari et al., "The Heat Island Group", in 1998. They advocate doing so because of the energy savings and reduction in associated emissions.

The study, on Los Angeles in the United States of America, showed that for a 7.5% increase in albedo, or solar reflectivity, 50-60% reductions in electricity for cooling, as well as, 30+% reductions in peak loads for air-conditioners, fewer photochemical smog days with reduced health costs and a more pleasant environment around 5 degrees Farenheit cooler, 2.8 degrees Centigrade, could be achieved by strategically planting trees and increasing the albedo of roads, roofs and footpaths, as well as, the walls of many buildings.

Potential savings for Los Angeles are estimated to be half a billion dollars USD annually when health cost savings are included.

Buildings with high solar reflectivity (and low emissivity) use less energy for heating and also last longer than dark coloured structures that are subjected to greater daily extremes of expansion and contraction.

Chicago: Albedo Increase = Temperature Decrease

Chicago began increasing urban albedo and vegetation in 1995. The satellite results show that increasing urban albedo actually brought about an even greater decrease in local temperatures than expected. Visit Chris Mackay's website to view a satellite based comparison of urban cooling strategies.
Chris Mackay et al..

Hotspots in Washington DC

If we address "Hotspots" then not only will we lower temperatures locally, save power for heating and cooling, as well as, reduce our CO2 emissions. We will also be lowering temperatures and mitigating climate change globally.

30Gt Emissions Reduction Required

View Graph

The Heat Island Group's proposal to increase the albedo of our 100 largest cities would provide an estimated 30+ Gigatonne CO2e offset to our global emissions and save on emissions. This would delay catastrophic climate change, hopefully long enough for us to get on track with regards to reducing our emissions.

The graph above is from Art Rosenfeld's PALENC (Passive And Low Energy Cooling) presentation and shows Stern's "Business as Usual" A2 scenario and the required 30 Gt reduction in emissions necessary to keep global warming below 2 degrees Centigrade.

Using solar reflective, high albedo coatings, as well as, painting interior walls with low emissive, reflective paints and using heat reflective window coatings will save up to 60%, or more, on heating and cooling costs for an existing building, as well as, help to reduce a City's heat island. Utilising such materials in new buildings costs little or nothing in most cases.

If we need to "do something" about reducing global warming then choosing solar reflective materials and generally increasing our collective albedo will achieve immediate results. A minimum solar reflectivity requirement in building and road construction codes would be a good start. Australia's minimum 6 star building standard points to high albedo roofs and walls as a way to achieve this standard.

The main benefit of employing solar reflective materials in buildings comes from the large reduction in emissions for electricity and peak loads for heating and cooling, as well as, the enormous health savings and longer life expectancies from reduced photochemical smog in many cities.

Albedo - Global Warming Survival Information Video

What's required to avoid catastrophic climate change 7:40 mins
Watch an albedo information video at YouTube
View at YouTube


CO2 levels and global temperature are increasing at an accelerating rate. 450 ppm is thought to be the maximum level to keep warming under 2 degrees Centigrade. Here is last month's CO2 level at N.O.A.A.'s Mauna Loa. The monthly figures are less variable than weekly results.

Annual and Decadal Avg. CO2 Increase

We should not knowingly make things worse by unnecessarily heating up the lower atmosphere through our choice of materials for outdoor surfaces. If a surface gets hot then it adds to global warming.

Here is a link to a short history of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere on Jack's Kisslinger's website that shows the role of CO2.

It appears that we narrowly missed having another ice-age except for our CO2 emissions averting it. We have been managing our global temperature to our advantage without realising it! Local and global temperature management is not only possible but becoming increasingly necessary.

At the current rate of CO2 increase we will exceed the 450 ppm notional level of catastrophic climate change in fifteen years or perhaps even less.

Best hopes and wishes for us all,

Derek Fiddler.
Albedo Australia
ABN: 92 952 412 996 | VBN: B2235022Y

t: +61 3 9434 7460 m: 0439 901225
o: Unit 2, 33-37 Lorimer Street | Greensborough (by appointment)
p: PO Box 152 | Greensborough VIC 3088 | Australia

Would you like to join the "Increase Albedo Petition" and help lobby our Authorities to stop making our urban heat islands and global warming worse? Join the Increase Albedo Petition


The Albedo Offset Calculators Program

Albedo Offset Calculators' main screen

One can calculate the offsets to global warming that various albedo increases can make globally and locally using the "Albedo Offset Calculators" program. The program has a global calculator for albedo increases to global urban areas and a local calculator for albedo increases to areas in square meters.

local calculator results for a .9 albedo increase to 200 square meters (20x10m) in a 300 watt solar downwelling area e.g. hot climate

local calculator - results for 200 square meters (20x10m) in a 300 watt solar downwelling area e.g. hot climate

Download the Albedo Offset Calculators version 7.2 installation file - '' 1.72 MB (1,805,449 bytes)
The program has no restrictions but "asks" for a donation

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- Try the online local albedo offset calculator. It is limited to a maximum area of one square kilometer and outputs a global warming offset in kilowatts, tonnes of CO2 and a dollar value.

The CO2e offsets in these PDFs were calculated using an earlier version of the "Local Albedo Offset Calculator" with estimated solar downwelling wattages. Using the current version you can click on a global location to calculate the offsets with greater accuracy. The local albedo offset calculator will calculate the offsets in watts, CO2e, $Dollars and also as a percentage of current global warming, for any given area and location in square meters, 1 meter is approximately 39 inches.

Potential CO2e Offsets of Australia's Capitals - cities.pdf

Potential CO2e Offsets of Australia's Roads - au_roads.pdf

Potential CO2e Offsets of New Zealand's Capitals - nzcities.pdf

Links to more albedo information:

Hashem Akbari's 100 Cities Presentation
UN's Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation
The Heat Island Group's Home Page

Last Updated: 29th of August, 2015

Derek Fiddler - Analyst, Designer and Developer

Copyright Derek Fiddler (c) 2008-2015
All Rights Reserved.