Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Soot causing Arctic ice to darken and melt rapidly

Red Orbit: Soot is tarnishing the ice in the Arctic and adding a swiftness to the melting that could cause the ocean in the North Pole to be without any ice well before 2050, experts announced on Tuesday. Experts stated that in order to resist the impact of global warming in the Arctic, we should re-focus and center more on stopping the industrial greenhouse gasses like soot, ozone and methane in Europe, North America and Russia.

Soot darkens the ice which causes it to absorb heat, increasing the speed of melting. Methane is produced from sources like oil, gas and agriculture, and ozone is produced by industrial pollutants. "Reductions in these pollutants would have a greater impact" in the upcoming two decades instead of stopping emissions of carbon dioxide. This information is coming from scientists at the 187-nation U.N. climate talks set in Poland.

The Arctic is growing increasingly warmer at twice the pace of the rest of the world and ice melted to an all time low in 2007, causing worries that it could eventually melt away completely.

"The Arctic sea ice may already have passed a 'tipping point'," said Pam Pearson, an Arctic pollution expert at the Climate Policy Center. "An ice-free summer Arctic is now possible well before 2050."

…The three main pollutants of soot, ozone and methane, remain in the atmosphere a shorter time than carbon dioxide, implying that decreasing emissions may have a faster impact in reducing the toxins in the air. "The question is: is all of the rapid melt of the Arctic ice in summer all due to human induced climate change or is part of it some natural cycle? We clearly have to understand it," Watson said….

A black ice growler from a melting glacier in Greenland, shot by Kim Hansen, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution license versions 2.5, 2.0, and 1.0.

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