Arctic Ice More Vulnerable to Increasingly Sunny Weather

National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
April 21, 2008

Arctic Ice More Vulnerable to Sunny Weather, New Study Shows

BOULDER-The shrinking expanse of Arctic sea ice is increasingly
vulnerable to summer sunshine, new research concludes. The study, by
scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and
Colorado State University (CSU), finds that unusually sunny weather
contributed to last summer’s record loss of Arctic ice, while similar
weather conditions in past summers do not appear to have had
comparable impacts.

The study, which draws on observations from instruments on a new
group of NASA satellites known as the “A-Train,” will be published
tomorrow in Geophysical Research Letters. It was funded by NASA and
the National Science Foundation, which is NCAR’s principal sponsor.

“In a warmer world, the thinner sea ice is becoming increasingly
sensitive to year-to-year variations in weather and cloud patterns,”
says NCAR’s Jennifer Kay, the lead author. “A single unusually clear
summer can now have a dramatic impact.”

The findings indicate that summer sunshine in the Arctic produces
more pronounced melting than in the past, largely because there is
now less ice to reflect solar radiation back into space. As a result,
the presence or absence of clouds now has greater implications for
sea ice loss.

The above paragraphs are excerpts. For the complete press release, go to:


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