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Home* News and Stories → Snow cover in the arctic on the decrease

Snow cover in the arctic on the decrease

The snow cover in the Arctic is shrinking more quickly than predicted. In 1979, the beginning of the records, about 9 million square kilometres of arctic land were snow covered during the spring. Until now, the figure has shrunk to a mere 3 million square kilometres, a loss rate of 21.5 % per decade. This is more than scientists had expected.

The larger share of snow-free ground absorbs sun radiation, turning it into warmth, rather than reflecting it back into space, as snow would do. The result is a positive feedback: a warmer atmosphere leads to less snow, which again results in a further warming of the atmosphere. In areas with high accumulation of biomass, such as Siberia and parts of Canada and Alaska, higher soil temperatures will additionally lead to increased methane emissions from the ground. Methane is a very aggressive greenhouse gas.

Snow-rich tundra in Woodfjord, mid June 2010.

Snow cover in the arctic on the decrease - Mushamna

Source: Geophysical Research Letters, Avisa Nordland

last modification: 2014-07-01 · copyright: Rolf Stange