Impending thaw: mysterious 'dark snow' phenomenon threatens the world's glaciers

Impending thaw: mysterious 'dark snow' phenomenon threatens the world's glaciers

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Scientists warn that 'dark snow' extends from the Himalayas to the Arctic due to increased amounts of dust from bare soil, soot from fires, and ultrafine black carbon and diesel particles from industrial engines which are sometimes deposited thousands of kilometers away from the place of their release.

According to a study published in the journal 'Nature Geoscience', the phenomenon of albedo (the percentage of radiation that any surface reflects with respect to the radiation that falls on it) causes a significant attenuation of the luminosity of snow and ice sheets of the world, which absorbs more solar heat thus accelerating the thaw.

A team of French government meteorologists have reported that the Arctic ice sheet, which is believed to have lost an average of 12.9 billion tons of ice between 1992 and 2010 due to global warming, may lose a an extra 27 billion tonnes a year from dust alone, which could raise sea levels by several centimeters by 2100.

Satellite measurements, according to the authors, show that over the past 10 years the surface of the Greenland ice sheet has darkened considerably during the melt season, which now lasts six to eleven days longer in some areas than 40 years ago. Scientists suggest that the retreat of the glaciers, meanwhile, uncovers larger areas of bare soil, which increases erosion, turning the melting process into a vicious cycle.


Video: Pine Island Massive Glacier Burst (July 2022).


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