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Arctic ice losing its reflective sheen

File photo

File photo


Digital writers
theweathernetwork.com

Tuesday, August 6, 2013, 3:33 PM -

Arctic ice is becoming darker and less reflective, a recent article in New Scientist suggests.

While it's common for some Arctic ice to melt during the summer scientists say the melt in recent years has been unprecedented, leaving an increasing amount of the dark ocean exposed.

Arctic ice helps keeps climate change at bay by reducing the amount of solar radiation that is reflected back into space. Radiation that isn't reflected back is absorbed by the ocean, contributing to climate change. 

This is referred to as the albedo effect, which measures how much of the Sun's energy is reflected off an object versus how much is trapped in the Earth.

Researchers looked at 30 years of satellite data to quantify the albedo of Arctic ice and found today's ice to be about 15% weaker than it was three decades ago, prompting the ice to absorb more radiation.

The lower albedo is partly due to warmer temperatures that are causing ponds of water to form on surface ice.

Researchers have yet to determine the implications of their findings.

Follow The Weather Network's "StormHunters", Mark Robinson and George Kourounis as they travel across the Arctic.

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