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Light Absorption Speeding Arctic Ice Melt


Science & Tech  (tags: climate, climate-change, climatechange, CO2emissions, destruction, ecosystems, endangered, environment, globalwarming, globalwarming, greenhousegases, habitatdestruction, nature, oceans, pollution, protection, research, science, water, world, weather, stu )

JL
- 575 days ago - green.blogs.nytimes.com
a new study published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters provides a look at a dynamic that may further accelerate the process: the rate at which the ocean underneath the ice absorbs sunlight.



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JL A. (272)
Wednesday January 2, 2013, 10:23 am

Green - Energy, the Environment and the Bottom Line
December 31, 2012, 4:56 pm
Light Absorption Speeding Arctic Ice Melt
By FELICITY BARRINGER

The record-setting disappearance of Arctic sea ice this fall was an indication to many climate scientists and ice experts that the pace of climate change was outstripping predictions.

Now a new study published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters provides a look at a dynamic that may further accelerate the process: the rate at which the ocean underneath the ice absorbs sunlight.

The bottom line of the study, which was done by four scientists, three at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, and one from the department of aerospace engineering sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is that the ocean under newly formed ice ("first-year ice" in the scientists' terminology) absorbs 50 percent more solar energy than the ocean beneath older ice ("multiyear ice").

This means that the more the ice melts in late summer, the more first-year ice replaces multiyear ice, and the warmer the ocean beneath the ice becomes, accelerating the melting process. One sentence of the study says it all: "a continuation of the observed sea-ice changes will increase the amount of light penetrating into the Arctic Ocean, enhancing sea-ice melt and affecting sea-ice and upper-ocean ecosystems."

The study, the first of its kind, used a remotely driven undersea vehicle equipped with spectral radiometers, devices capable of measuring light. It then produced a map of the distribution of light under the summer ice across the Arctic.

The rapid loss of Arctic ice has been a matter of escalating concern to climate scientists. And, as my colleague Justin Gillis explained in this blog earlier this year, the notion that it is offset by increases in Antarctic ice is belied by data showing that the northern melting during the summer, based on the total amount of ocean covered, is progressing far faster than the rate of the southern increase in ice.

The authors of the new study say their data allows them to predict that the trend will only accelerate as the feedback loop continues.
 

Kit B. (277)
Wednesday January 2, 2013, 3:26 pm

It's called the albedo effect and it's one of the most important elements in keeping our global temperatures in balance. When the planet's albedo or reflectivity is increased more sunlight is reflected back into space. This in turn has a cooling effect on global temperatures. However, what we see now is a reduction in the albedo or reflectivity, which in turn causes warming affects. There is no doubt left that man made elements including the affect of such heavy amounts of CO2 that even the vast oceans are not able to absorb this, are strongly reflected in the shrinking of the polar caps. The albedo effect is critical in keeping the planets temperature balance.
 

JL A. (272)
Wednesday January 2, 2013, 4:57 pm
Thanks so much for the additional explications Kit! You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.
 

Terry V. (30)
Wednesday January 2, 2013, 5:21 pm

Climate Change Causes

Human Impact

Pollution and Global Warming
 

JL A. (272)
Wednesday January 2, 2013, 5:59 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Terry because you have done so within the last week.
 

Mitchell D. (129)
Wednesday January 2, 2013, 6:22 pm
Hey, don't let Boehner, McConnell, Issa or Cantor hear this, or they'll all quit congress and go work for Fox News...well. on second thought....
 

JL A. (272)
Wednesday January 2, 2013, 6:34 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Mitchell because you have done so within the last week.
 

Gloria picchetti (287)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 8:16 am
Understood, thank you.
 

Natalie V. (27)
Thursday January 3, 2013, 2:28 pm
noted
 
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