Climate Dynamics

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 1527–1542 | Cite as

Albedo enhancement over land to counteract global warming: impacts on hydrological cycle

  • Govindasamy BalaEmail author
  • Bappaditya Nag


A recent modelling study has shown that precipitation and runoff over land would increase when the reflectivity of marine clouds is increased to counter global warming. This implies that large scale albedo enhancement over land could lead to a decrease in runoff over land. In this study, we perform simulations using NCAR CAM3.1 that have implications for Solar Radiation Management geoengineering schemes that increase the albedo over land. We find that an increase in reflectivity over land that mitigates the global mean warming from a doubling of CO2 leads to a large residual warming in the southern hemisphere and cooling in the northern hemisphere since most of the land is located in northern hemisphere. Precipitation and runoff over land decrease by 13.4 and 22.3%, respectively, because of a large residual sinking motion over land triggered by albedo enhancement over land. Soil water content also declines when albedo over land is enhanced. The simulated magnitude of hydrological changes over land are much larger when compared to changes over oceans in the recent marine cloud albedo enhancement study since the radiative forcing over land needed (−8.2 W m−2) to counter global mean radiative forcing from a doubling of CO2 (3.3 W m−2) is approximately twice the forcing needed over the oceans (−4.2 W m−2). Our results imply that albedo enhancement over oceans produce climates closer to the unperturbed climate state than do albedo changes on land when the consequences on land hydrology are considered. Our study also has important implications for any intentional or unintentional large scale changes in land surface albedo such as deforestation/afforestation/reforestation, air pollution, and desert and urban albedo modification.


Bala Cloud Droplet Solar Radiation Management Surface Temperature Change Albedo Change 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Prof. J. Srinivasan for his helpful comments on the original manuscript. Suggestions and comments by Dr. Hugo Lambert and two anonymous reviewers helped us to improve the manuscript substantially. Financial support for B. Nag was provided by the Divecha Center for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science. Generous computational resources were provided by the Supercomputer Education and Research Center, Indian Institute of Science. Technical assistance by S. Krishna, B. Pavana and Dr. Devaraju in preparing the illustrations in this paper is gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

382_2011_1256_MOESM1_ESM.doc (104 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 104 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Divecha Center for Climate Change and Center for Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia

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