The albedo of an object is the extent to which it diffusely reflects light from light sources such as the Sun. It is therefore a more specific form of the term reflectivity. Albedo is defined as the ratio of diffusely reflected to incident electromagnetic radiation. It is a unitless measure indicative of a surface's or body's diffuse reflectivity. The range of possible values is from 0 (dark) to 1 (bright).

The albedo is an important concept in climatology and astronomy, as well as in computer graphics and computer vision. In climatology it is sometimes expressed as a percentage. Its value depends on the frequency of radiation considered: unqualified, it usually refers to some appropriate average across the spectrum of visible light. In general, the albedo depends on the direction and directional distribution of incoming radiation.

Snow albedos can be as high as 90%; this, however, is for the ideal example: fresh deep snow over a featureless landscape. Over Antarctica they average a little more than 80%. If a marginally snow-covered area warms, snow tends to melt, lowering the albedo, and hence leading to more snowmelt (the ice-albedo positive feedback).

Latin comes into play again here. Albus is Latin for white, which you will recognize from the English word albino.

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