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True Color MODIS Albedo Image Improves Climate Modeling

The MODIS instrument, flying aboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, measures how much solar radiation is reflected by the Earth's surface almost every day over the entire planet. Zooming in on Africa's Sahara Desert and the Arabian Peninsula, MODIS observed considerable variability in reflectance across the region-from the darkest volcanic terrains to the brightest sand. This matches specific soil groups and rock types to MODIS-derived albedo measurements. This correlation is important because most current weather forecast models treat this region as if the surface is uniform and therefore reflects the same amount of light all across its wide expanse. However, the terrain across the Sahara Desert and Arabian Peninsula is actually quite varied. Darker surface features (like rocks and plant canopies) absorb more light than lighter surfaces (like sand) and therefore get hotter in the afternoon. Over the course of a day, these heating differences can set up atmospheric motions that influence global clouds and rain.
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This is an illustration of TERRA-MODISs ability to differentiate many levels of reflectivity over the globe where previous spacecraft intruments had only one level    This is an illustration of TERRA-MODISs ability to differentiate many levels of reflectivity over the globe where previous spacecraft intruments had only one level
Duration: 6.0 seconds
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The highlighted area is the area of improved Albedo.    The highlighted area is the area of improved Albedo.

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Video slate image reads    Video slate image reads "MODIS-derived Albedo Measurements Improve Weather Forecasting by more accurately describing specific soil and rock types".

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Animation Number:2477
Animator:Lori Perkins (NASA/GSFC) (Lead)
Scientists:Crystal Schaaf (Boston University)
 Elena Tsvetsinskaya (Boston University)
Platform/Sensor/Data Set:Terra/MODIS (2000/11/01)
Series:MODIS Albedo
Video:SVS2002-0016 *
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Scientific Visualization Studio
SVS >> Albedo
DLESE >> Climatology
SVS >> Forecast
DLESE >> Physical geography

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Many of our multimedia items use the GCMD keywords. These keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version logo - the U.S. Government's official Web portal. + Privacy Policy and Important Notices
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