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Posted Thu Feb 19 2009: from New Scientist:
Arctic's personal greenhouse turns up the heat
The warming of the Arctic has been explained before as being due to a positive feedback loop: as the ice cap melts and disappears, more of the dark ocean is exposed: the Arctic's reflectivity, or albedo, decreases. This means less energy is reflected back out into space and the region warms still further. But that infamous arctic albedo feedback is only a small part of the problem.... [L]ess ice means more exposed sea, and a larger surface from which water can evaporate. Since water vapour is a strong greenhouse gas, the evaporation effectively creates an Arctic energy trap.... All this means the shrinking ice cap is playing a triple role in warming the Arctic. The ice is reflecting less energy, the open water is storing more energy, and is also supplying greenhouse gas to the atmosphere in the form of water vapour. Those three factors combine to produce a strong regional greenhouse over the Arctic.
[Read more stories about: arctic meltdown, albedo effect, feedback loop]

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