Arctic Wildfire Soot Helped Melt Greenland

As warmer temperatures in the north expand the wildfire season, fires on the Arctic tundra are increasing. Now a new report indicates that the sooty smoke from the 2012 summer fires helped in the dramatic thaw of Greenland’s ice sheet this past summer, reports Suzanne Goldenberg at the UK Guardian.  New satellite imagery presented in a new National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report, presented by Ohio State University geographer Jason Box, shows smoke from the Arctic fires over Greenland at the time of peak melt.  The soot from some of the smoke likely settled on Greenland. Scientists have long known that soot blackens snow and ice, reducing its powers to reflect hot solar radiation, thus absorbing more of it and melting further from the increased heat. Greenland experienced its most dramatic melting since satellite records began last July, with virtually the entire ice sheet showing signs of a thaw over the course of four days. This is another impressive illustration of how one effect of climate change can cause or enhance yet another effect far away.

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Source

Smoke from Arctic wildfires may have caused Greenland’s record thaw. Scientists have long known that soot blackens snow and ice, reducing its powers of reflectivity and making it more likely to melt under the sun. But the satellite records, due to be presented by the Ohio State University geographer Jason Box, pick up images of smoke over Greenland. The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/07/greenland-ice-melting-arctic-wildfires

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About melharte

Mel (Mary Ellen) Harte is a biologist (PhD) and climate change educator. She co-authored the free online book, COOL THE EARTH, SAVE THE ECONOMY, available at www.CoolTheEarth.US, and writes the CLIMATE CHANGE THIS WEEK column at the HuffingtonPost. Living summers in the alpine Rockies, she is on the frontlines of watching what climate change can do. Her diagnostic digital photographs of wildflowers have appeared in numerous publications.
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