NASA continues to explore the impact of black carbon or soot on the Earths climate. NASA uses satellite data and computer models that recreate the climate. New findings show soot may be contributing to changes happening near the North Pole, such as accelerating melting of sea ice and snow and changing atmospheric temperatures.
Dorothy Koch of Columbia University, New York, and NASAs Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, and James Hansen of NASA GISS are co-authors of the study that appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research. "This research offers additional evidence black carbon, generated through the process of incomplete combustion, may have a significant warming impact on the Arctic," Koch said. "Further, it means there may be immediate consequences for Arctic ecosystems, and potentially long-term implications on climate patterns for much of the globe," she added.
The Arctic is especially susceptible to the impact of human-generated particles and other pollution. In recent years the Arctic has significantly warmed, and sea-ice cover and glacial snow have diminished. Likely causes for these trends include changing weather patterns and the effects of pollution. Black carbon has been implicated as playing a role in melting ice and snow. When soot falls on ice, it darkens the surface and accelerates melting by increasing absorbed sunlight. Airborne soot also warms the air and affects weather patterns and clouds. Koch and Hansen’s results suggest a possible mechanism behind the satellite-derived observations of Arctic climate change. They found the timing and location of Arctic warming and sea ice loss in the late 20th century are consistent with a significant contribution from man-made tiny particles of pollution, or aerosols.
Rob Gutro | EurekAlert!
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