Solar Energy Scatter and Loss
Country: United States
Date: December 2007
What percentage of the sun's energy is scattered or
reflected back into space? What causes this loss of solar energy?
About 30% of solar radiation is scattered or reflected back into space.
About 22% is reflected by clouds, 3% is reflected by the ground and
vegetation, and 5% is scattered back by the atmosphere.
David R. Cook
Climate Research Section
Environmental Science Division
Argonne National Laboratory
Different substances, or the same substance in different forms or
environments reflect incident sun energy -- from radio waves to x-rays --
to different extents. The general term is called "albedo". It has a number
of similar definitions depending upon the particular area of application.
It can be measured over small areas or large areas at different
altitudes and other variables. This is not "a loss" of solar energy
as much as how it is reflected. In climatology it usually refers to
the energy of incoming radiation from the Sun that returns to outer
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Update: June 2012