Friday, August 10, 2018

Pollution Is Slowing the Melting of Arctic Sea Ice, for Now

Decline in September Arctic ice extent (not volume). (Illustration Credit: NASA) Click to Enlarge.
The Arctic is one of the “canaries in the coal mine” for climate change.  Long ago, scientists predicted it would warm quicker than other parts of the planet, and they were right.  Currently, the Arctic is among the fastest-warming places on the planet.  Part of the reason is that as the Arctic warms, ice melts and ocean water is uncovered.  The ocean is darker than ice so it in turn absorbs more sunlight and increases its warming.  This is a feedback loop.

Another reason is that the Arctic doesn’t get that much sunlight so increased energy from the atmosphere has a bigger influence there than it would have elsewhere.

Scientists have looked to the Arctic for clues and hints of human climate change over the past decades.  The fact that the Arctic is warming has led to a 70% reduction in the volume of summer sea ice – an enormous loss of ice.

A recent paper just published in the Journal of Climate by the American Meteorological Society takes an in-depth look at how fast the Arctic ice is melting and why.  According to the paper, the authors completed a detection and attribution study of Arctic sea ice decline from 1953 to 2012.  That is 60 years of data that tell the picture of climate change.  The “detection” part of this study was about detecting what long-term trends are apparent over these six decades.  The “attribution” part of the study is figuring out what is the cause of the trends.

Read more at Pollution Is Slowing the Melting of Arctic Sea Ice, for Now

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