New research from NASA scientists suggests emissions of black soot alter the way sunlight reflects off snow. According to a computer simulation, black soot may be responsible for 25 percent of observed global warming over the past century.
SOOT PARTICLE UNDER A MICROSCOPE
Credit: D.M. Smith, University of Denver
Soot in the higher latitudes of the Earth, where ice is more common, absorbs more of the suns energy and warmth than an icy, white background. Dark-colored black carbon, or soot, absorbs sunlight, while lighter colored ice reflects sunlight.
Soot in areas with snow and ice may play an important role in climate change. Also, if snow- and ice-covered areas begin melting, the warming effect increases, as the soot becomes more concentrated on the snow surface. "This provides a positive feedback (i.e. warming); as glaciers and ice sheets melt, they tend to get even dirtier," said Dr. James Hansen, a researcher at NASAs Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York.
David Steitz | EurekAlert!
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