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Spatiotemporal characteristics and driving factors of global planetary albedo: an analysis using the Geodetector method


As an important parameter of the Earth’s energy budget, the planetary albedo of Earth varies with the dynamics of atmospheric and surface variables. In this study, we investigated the spatiotemporal characteristics and driving factors of the global planetary albedo using the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) Energy Balanced and Filled (EBAF) dataset and the Geodetector method. The results revealed that the planetary albedo can be decomposed into atmospheric and surface contributions, and the planetary albedo in the middle and low latitudes was predominantly affected by the atmospheric contribution. The global planetary albedo and the atmospheric and surface contributions exhibited decreasing trends of − 0.0020, − 0.0015, and − 0.0004/decade from 2001 to 2018, respectively, which were closely related to the variations of atmospheric and surface variables. The cloud fraction was the driving factor of the atmospheric contribution in the middle and low latitudes, and its influence was further enhanced by the aerosol optical thickness (AOT), ice water path (IWP), and liquid water path (LWP). The snow/ice coverage and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) were the driving factors of the surface contribution in the snow/ice-covered and vegetated areas, respectively. The interaction relationships between the surface variables were mainly bi-enhanced and nonlinearly enhanced. These results provide useful information about the driving factors of the planetary albedo and are benefit for improving the parametrization of the planetary albedo.

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Data availability

The CERES EBAF Edition 4.1 dataset can be downloaded from, the CERS SSF dataset can be downloaded from, the MERRA-2 data can be downloaded from, and the MODIS NDVI data can be downloaded from

Code availability

Code used in this study is available upon request.


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This work was financially supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China under the grant number 2020YFA0714102, the National Natural Science Foundation of China under the grant numbers 41971287 and 41601349, and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities under the grant number 2412019FZ003.

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Authors and Affiliations



Mingzhu Lv: methodology, data curation, formal analysis, and writing original draft. Yan Song: validation and investigation. Xijia Li: methodology and investigation. Mengsi Wang: software and visualization. Ying Qu: conceptualization, writing review and editing, and funding acquisition.

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Correspondence to Ying Qu.

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Lv, M., Song, Y., Li, X. et al. Spatiotemporal characteristics and driving factors of global planetary albedo: an analysis using the Geodetector method. Theor Appl Climatol 147, 737–752 (2022).

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