facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Greater impact of snow, ice melt measured

Jan. 19, 2011 at 8:17 PM   |   Comments

CORVALLIS, Ore., Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Arctic "albedo feedback," reflection of sunlight back to space from snow and ice, has decreased more than twice what climate models show, U.S. researchers say.

Scientists say the findings are significant because they suggest the loss of reflectivity could amplify arctic warming much more than previously thought, ScienceDaily.com reported Wednesday.

"The cryosphere isn't cooling the Earth as much as it did 30 years ago, and climate model simulations do not reproduce this recent effect," Karen Shell, an Oregon State University atmospheric scientist, said.

The cryosphere is the collective portion of Earth's surface where water is in solid form as sea ice, snow, lake and river ice, glaciers, ice sheets and frozen ground.

Most of these frozen areas are highly reflective, and bounce sunlight back into the atmosphere, keeping Earth cooler than it would be without the cryosphere.

But as temperatures increase, areas of ice and snow melt and reflectivity decreases, Shell said.

"Instead of being reflected back into the atmosphere, the energy of the sun is absorbed by the Earth, which amplifies the warming," Shell said. "Scientists have known for some time that there is this amplification effect, but almost all of the climate models we examined underestimated the impact -- and they contained a pretty broad range of scenarios."

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Android phones to join iPhone in saying no to the police Android phones to join iPhone in saying no to the police
2
Perth's first iPhone buyer immediately drops brand new phone on live TV Perth's first iPhone buyer immediately drops brand new phone on live TV
3
Dogs are the favorite food of leopards in rural India Dogs are the favorite food of leopards in rural India
4
Only 5 billion years until Andromeda Galaxy eats Milky Way Only 5 billion years until Andromeda Galaxy eats Milky Way
5
Tuna fishermen are not happy about proposed marine sanctuary Tuna fishermen are not happy about proposed marine sanctuary
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback