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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

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