‘Vicious Global Warming Feedback Loop Worse Than Feared’

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Vicious Global Warming Feedback Loop Worse Than Feared (Common Dreams, Feb 19, 2014):

One of nature’s key defenses against global warming—the reflection of the sun’s rays away from Earth by Arctic sea ice—has fallen victim to… global warming. And according to a study published Monday, the vicious feedback loop is worse than previously thought.

The new research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows the ability of the Arctic ice to reflect sunlight—known scientifically as albedo—has decreased dramatically since 1979, with the calculations showing the region’s ability to reflect sunlight diminished more than twice what previous studies have shown.

As less of the sun’s rays are reflected back into space, the open ocean absorbs more heat leading to additional ice melt in the region. The problem is both self-feeding and a source of deep concern for scientists and those concerned about climate change.

“That is big – unexpectedly big,” said the study’s lead author Ian Eisenman, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, on the rate of loss. “Arctic sea ice retreat has been an important player in the global warming that we’ve observed during recent decades.”

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