Sea Ice / Albedo

Albedo (/ælˈbiːdoʊ/) is the reflectivity of a surface.

It is a reflection coefficient, and has a value of less than one.

Albedo is derived from Latin albedo "whiteness" (or reflected sunlight) in turn from albus "white", is the diffuse reflectivity or reflecting power of a surface.

DATA SOURCE: Arctic sea ice patterns


I have been captivated by the Albedo effect as it relates to sea ice, following a research residency in Alaska in 2014. Albedo is particularly important in studying energy absorption and warming of the ocean. Sea ice is white, and thus has high albedo, reflecting most of the sun’s light. As the arctic climate warms due to Polar Amplification, the reduction in sea ice cover and increase in melt ponds creates greater dark areas of ocean that absorb more energy, creating a feedback loop of arctic ocean warming and increased ice melt. This scientific phenomenon is the concept expressed in the artistic medium of cast glass - which shares properties of light diffusion, reflection, and color saturation - to draw a parallel with the rapidly changing Arctic climate.


This process begins with landscape photography of sea ice melt patterns that exhibit the Albedo effect. I digitally translate the images into 3D surfaces, which are then cut on a CNC router to create a positive for mold-making. The variable thickness of the cast glass surface captures effect of a gradation of color saturation based on depth of water.

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