Abstract Several computational experiments have been conducted to estimate the difference between clear sky spectral narrowband (0.5–0.7 μm) and broadband (0.3–2.5 μm) planetary albedo for three cases of wavelength-independent surface albedo and four cases of surface wavelength-dependent (snow, dry sand, meadow, water) albedo. The spectral interval of (0.5–0.7 μm) was selected to approximate the bulk of the VISSR visible channel on the COES satellites and Channel 1 of the AVHRR on the NOAA operational satellites. Different atmospheric conditions and solar zenith angles have been simulated. It was demonstrated that the relationship between the spectral narrowband and broadband planetary albedo depends primarily on the assumptions made about the magnitude and wavelength dependence of the surface albedo and less on the atmospheric conditions. Future attempts to parametrize the conversion from narrowband to broadband spectral observations should account for the surface type.