The solar zenith angle dependence of desert albedo

Zhuo Wang, Michael Barlage, Xubin Zeng, Robert E. Dickinson, Crystal B. Schaaf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Most land models assume that the bare soil albedo is a function of soil color and moisture but independent of solar zenith angle (SZA). However, analyses of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function (BRDF) and albedo data over thirty desert locations indicate that bare soil albedo does vary with SZA. This is further confirmed using the in situ data. In particular, bare soil albedo normalized by its value at 60° SZA can be adequately represented by a one-parameter formulation (1 + C)/(1 + 2C * cos(SZA)) or a two-parameter formulation (1 + B1 * f1(SZA) + B2 * f2(SZA)). Using the MODIS and in situ data, the empirical parameters C, B1, and B2 are taken as 0.15, 0.346 and 0.063. The SZA dependence of soil albedo is also found to significantly affect the modeling of land surface energy balance over a desert site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 16 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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