Arctic, Arctic ice, National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
Big Sur, California

California Wildfires May Preserve Arctic Ice

July 30, 2008 12:56 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Smoke from North American wildfires may briefly relieve warming in the Arctic, by helping to temporarily block the sun and cool the air.

30-Second Summary

A study has found that the smoke produces “a veil of aerosols,” or tiny liquid and solid particles, that reduce sunlight and can thus cool surface air for a short period of time.

“The effect may last weeks to months during late spring through autumn if smoke is widely dispersed, potentially offsetting some of the warming caused by greenhouse gases,” National Geographic reported last week.

Researchers studied a 2004 wildfire in Alaska and Canada and its impact on how much of the sun’s energy reaches Earth’s surface, acccording to the study’s lead author, Robert Stone of the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration.

The study comes amid rising concern about the state of the Arctic coastline. In June, scientists posited that the North Pole could become ice-free this summer for the first time in history.

This week, Britain’s Globe and Mail reported that the Arctic coastline has lost its biggest chunk since an entire ice shelf broke off in 2005.

The Globe and Mail also reported that the Arctic coastline, once made up of 9,000 square km of ice, has shrunk to less than 1,000 square km.

As the Arctic ice melts, competition is heating up for control of the area’s untapped energy resources, as well as new shipping routes that are expected to open up.

Headline Link: ‘Wildfires May Briefly Slow Arctic Warming, Study Says’

Background: ‘North Pole May Be Ice-Free This Summer’

Related Topics: Arctic oil, toxicity

Reference: The smoke study, the Arctic Ocean


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