The glittering, icy landscape of Greenland is being marred by soot that falls from the smoke plumes of Arctic wildfires, new satellite-based research shows. That soot darkens the surface of the ice and makes it absorb more sunlight, hastening its melt....
Because meltwater is less reflective than ice, the surface of the ice sheet is already absorbing more sunlight — previous research found that the reflectivity of the Greenland ice has dropped by 6 percent in the last decade, according to an Ohio State University release on the new research.
This summer, in fact, virtually the entire surface veneer of the Greenland ice sheet melted in a matter of days, something that Ohio State researcher Jason Box, who worked on the CALIPSO research, says could start happening every summer.
Now, adding to the darkening of the surface that comes with more meltwater is the soot from Arctic tundra wildfires, another phenomenon that seems to be increasing with global warming. As these wildfires rage, atmospheric currents carry their smoke plumes over other areas, including Greenland, as the CALIPSO images show. The soot drops out from these plumes and darkens the ice sheet, exacerbating the feedback cycle of melting.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment