Space Photos of Kangaroo Will Shed Light on Climate Change

CANBERRA, Australia -- Scientists in Australia hope a giant cardboard image of a kangaroo, photographed from space on Tuesday, will help them better understand how the earth reflects sunlight and give them new clues about global warming.

Similar images are due to be photographed from space at sites in the United States, France, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Israel, Wales and Singapore as part of the experiment, involving science centers and the American space agency NASA.

The 32-meter tall kangaroo, an Australian national symbol, was placed in the southern city of Melbourne and was photographed by satellite in parkland to measure the Albedo effect, or the amount of sunlight reflected by the earth.

"The sun's rays come in and they either get reflected, or they get absorbed," Professor Patricia Vickers-Rich, from Melbourne's Monash University, said on Tuesday.

"If the sun rays get absorbed, then things heat up. If they get reflected, things either stay the same or things cool off and you can have a glaciation."

Professor Vickers-Rich said melting ice caps meant less sunlight would be reflected, which could lead to more sunlight being absorbed and an increase in global temperatures.

"Ice is like our big kangaroo. The ice reflects the light, so it gets rid of a lot of the heat that comes in," she said.

Images collected during the experiment will be compared with similar images from a year earlier to help measure changes in the Albedo effect.