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Earth

Darker Arctic Boosting Global Warming 378

Posted by Soulskill
from the melting-ice-and-plunging-albedo dept.
The Grim Reefer sends this news from an Associated Press report: "The Arctic isn't nearly as bright and white as it used to be because of more ice melting in the ocean, and that's turning out to be a global problem, a new study says. With more dark, open water in the summer, less of the sun's heat is reflected back into space. So the entire Earth is absorbing more heat than expected, according to a study (abstract) published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That extra absorbed energy is so big that it measures about one-quarter of the entire heat-trapping effect of carbon dioxide, said the study's lead author, Ian Eisenman, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California. The Arctic grew 8 per cent darker between 1979 and 2011, Eisenman found, measuring how much sunlight is reflected back into space." The same decrease in ice contributes to the weather circumstances that led to extremely low temperatures across parts of the United States this winter.
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Darker Arctic Boosting Global Warming

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  • by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:04PM (#46280675) Homepage

    And increased heat in the oceans can (and likely will) lead to increased cloud formation, which will alter the planet's albedo in the opposite direction. How much and how soon? Nobody knows. But the planet has been both warmer and cooler than it is now during it's long history. Each time it's damped out cycles of extreme warming and extreme cooling all by itself.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:23PM (#46280837)

      Earth ultimately doesn't care; it's older than we are and will outlive us.

      We care because civilization as we know it is really shockingly dependent on climatic patterns like rainfall and seasonal temperature and parameters like sea level being what they are.

    • by TapeCutter (624760) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:28PM (#46280883) Journal
      There is not a scap of evidence for what you claim in your post, unless of course you belive in the fanciful IRIS theory.Yes it's been hotter and colder in the distant past and those extremes usually coincided with mass-extinctions, 98% of all marine species went extinct during the Great Dying due to high levels of C02 turning the ocean acidic. It's not the planet that's in trouble it's our civilization, we can do our worst and life will enthusiastically bounce back after we have gone, just like it has with every other mass extiction.

      Each time it's damped out cycles of extreme warming and extreme cooling all by itself

      It did that by putting carbon into the ground as coal, peat and limestone, humans are doing their best to put it back in the atmosphere by burning the coal and peat, and releaseing the CO2 from limestone to turn it into concrete. The problem with your sig and issues such as this is that your wrong decisions have a negative effect on everyone else, you rights are not infinite, they end when they negate the rights of others.

      • by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @08:17PM (#46281351) Homepage

        98% of all marine species went extinct during the Great Dying due to high levels of C02 turning the ocean acidic.

        The exact causes of the Permian–Triassic extinction event you reference are not known. High CO2 are but one hypothesis, alongside many others, all of which have at least some supporting evidence. CO2 may be the favorite whipping boy these days but it is a blatant falsification on your part to claim CO2 was the sole driver of this particular extinction event. CO2 may have been the sole cause. It may have been a contributing cause. Or, in the case of something like a catastrophic impact, it may have had *absolutely nothing* to do with the event. I don't know the answer, but you most certainly don't either.

        The problem with your sig and issues such as this is that your wrong decisions have a negative effect on everyone else, you rights are not infinite, they end when they negate the rights of others.

        And your wrong decisions don't have similar impacts were they to be implemented as national policy? Of course they do! But you're naively assuming you're the only "right" person in this discussion. You've made up your mind and that's the end of it, despite plenty of evidence to show that there just *might* be other climate factors out there that could be just as -- or perhaps even more than -- contributory to what's going on with the climate. It's that kind of dogmatism that marks you as a zealot, and subsequently makes logical people tune you out.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      And increased heat in the oceans can (and likely will) lead to increased cloud formation, which will alter the planet's albedo in the opposite direction. How much and how soon? Nobody knows. But the planet has been both warmer and cooler than it is now during it's long history. Each time it's damped out cycles of extreme warming and extreme cooling all by itself.

      From what I've seen we're past the tipping point and warming will continue. Further compounding things is Unforeseen Consequences, such as changes in chemistry of the upper water column, resulting in changes in sea life. Change global climates has usually been gradual, this is happening so rapidly only species of flora and fauna which can adapt will survive.

    • by haruchai (17472)

      Clouds are troublesome because they have both cooling & warming effects, depending on their type, reflectivity ( which varies even though we see them mostly as "white") and altitude.

      But the overall effect of clouds is hypothesized to make the Earth slightly warmer - but the margin of error is pretty wide.

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        More importantly with clouds, they do not just represent a change of moisture within then atmosphere but a change of ability due to temperature change of that atmosphere to hold that moisture without condensation occurring and clouds forming. So the fallacy is that with higher temperatures there will be more clouds, false, the truth is with higher temperatures more water will be held within the atmosphere, whether clouds form or do not form will be subject to local weather conditions and geography, nothing

    • About increased cloud formation and the planet's albedo...

      What we know is that clouds, in the form of water droplets or ice, increases the albedo more than anything else that is likely to happen. But water vapor is a very strong greenhouse gas. Nobody is talking about the interplay of these factors, because nobody knows how to model them: how much of the increase in evaporation stays water vapor, what layers of the atmosphere will be affected. Another complication is that the atmosphere is expanding as it

    • by jovius (974690) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @02:20AM (#46283301)

      But the planet has been both warmer and cooler than it is now during it's long history.

      Yes that's true, but never in the planet's history has one species dominated in such sudden and strong force.

      Each time it's damped out cycles of extreme warming and extreme cooling all by itself.

      Precisely, because the changes have been relatively slow and there has been plenty of time for the feedbacks to occur. At the moment humanity is acting like a once per 100 000 years super volcano in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. Every year. On top of that we are sustaining a ridiculously big cattle population, which wouldn't be able to sustain itself while cutting trees down (and thus one negative feedback loop).

      If an alien species started to pour greenhouse gases to atmosphere, inserts billion strong alien cattle population and cuts rain forests down etc I guess you would be fucking furious. So why aren't you now?

  • by deathcloset (626704) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:11PM (#46280747) Journal
    Looking on the bright side - thanks to all our wanton climate changing industrial activity and glacial public acceptance of the situation, we are getting our first experiences with terraforming. Admittedly, these experiences are like one's first experiences with learning how to paint - finger painting and messy, but with much larger existential consequences and no actual paint.

    Hopefully "soon" we get a good foothold on Mars, and hopefully, and this sounds weird I know, there is NO life on Mars. Because that would give us a nice "sterile planetary lab" on which to experiment as we find ways to control global climates without operating on the only global climate we have available - which we happen to depend on completely and utterly for our survival.

    Better to start experimenting on another one as soon as possible, because even when we get a handle on our climate changing activities, nature is standing by with a much larger list of climate changing activities which we will have to confront.

    Maybe Venus too - if we can fix that place we can fix anywhere! So Mars would be like our lab and Venus is like our final exam.

    And I think we really need to pass this course.
    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      You've already failed, they don't have magnetic fields. All the oxygen in the world is useless for real habitation without a magnetic field. Not a place I would want to live, with cosmic rays flying through my brain all the time.

    • by linear a (584575)

      we are getting our first experiences with venusforming

      FTFY

  • How much more light is reflected by the extra snow cover from the polar vortices?

    • by Raumkraut (518382)

      Perhaps about the same amount that isn't being reflected from those areas of the world where snowfall has been at a record low this winter. Like here in the arctic.

  • Kind of obvious that white reflects more solar energy than do dark colors. So the point of the story is a several year old point, less ice/snow the faster the poles warm in the sun.

    Imagine the stories if the opposite were happening, global cooling. The panic.
  • Old News (Score:4, Informative)

    by BlindRobin (768267) on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:25PM (#46280853)

    To anyone that has been paying (not even very close) attention this is nothing new.

  • Please tell me the browser cache is screwing with me. Please tell me that my wife wants to have sex more often ( ok that isn't going to happen, I have a 12 and 15 year old) Do we really have Slashdot.org back?
  • man made fake icebergs, painted white of course.

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