Albedo? No, we're not talking about lip balm!
“Darling, have you got the Labello?” The little stick that keeps our lips in perfect condition is a must-have for ski days. We’ve all immortalised its unique “white lips” look on the slopes at one point or another. But take heed, what we’re talking about today isn’t the best way to use Labello of course, but “albedo”.
Albedo goes some way to answering the following question: “Why do some of us come back from a day’s skiing with huge tan lines?”
As you’ll have realised, albedo has to do with the sun. It’s a way of measuring a surface’s reflective power. We’ve all experienced it: wearing a black t-shirt makes you hotter than wearing the same t-shirt in white.
The darker the colour, the more of the sun’s rays it absorbs. Conversely, the lighter the colour, the more of the sun’s rays it reflects.
Are you starting to see the connection between tanning and and snow? The huge white area acts like a large-scale mirror that reflects the sun’s rays. When you’re skiing, the snow reflects 4 times more of the sun’s rays than the sea’s surface!
Surface of a lake from 2 to 4%
Motorway from 5 to 10%
Forest from 10 to 20%
Surface of the sea from 5 to 15%
Cultivated field from 15 to 25%
Uncultivated field from 25 to 30%
Sand from 25 to 45%
Ice 60 %
Groomed snow from 40 to 70%
Fresh snow from 75 to 90%
Flawless mirror 100 %
Sun protection is your best friend!
In the mountains, the cold temperature stops you from really feeling the sun’s heat. It’s therefore vital to protect yourself.
Tip 1 / Mirror mirror, on the wall, who has the best tan of all!
In order to prevent sunburn and keep your skin hydrated, specially designed sun creams are available for use in the mountains. Make sure you keep re-applying it throughout the day, especially on children and those with sensitive skin.
Tip 2 / Never forget your sunglasses
Just like your skin, your eyes are sensitive to the sun’s rays. That’s why it’s important to protect them. Children should preferably wear ski goggles that cover a larger portion of the face. Your sunglass lenses should be category 3 or 4. Please note that it is illegal to drive wearing category 4 lens sunglasses.
Tip 3 / A break? Yes, but under a proper roof!
Staying out in the sun all day might feel great, but it’s not without its risks. Don’t forget to take a few breaks in the shade, especially at times when the ultra-violet light is stronger.
Did you know?
Albedo is used in astronomy to easily differentiate between gassy planets (with high albedo), and terrestrial planets, which have much lower albedo.
To sum up, it’s partly because of albedo that you need to use Labello!