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Study: Arctic getting darker, making Earth warmer

Blue icebergs in arctic ocean near Ilulissat

WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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 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 percent darker between 1979 and 2011, Eisenman found, measuring how much sunlight is reflected back into space.

"Basically, it means more warming," Eisenman said in an interview.

The North Pole region is an ocean that mostly is crusted at the top with ice that shrinks in the summer and grows back in the fall. At its peak melt in September, the ice has shrunk on average by nearly 35,000 square miles - about the size of Maine - per year since 1979.

Snow-covered ice reflects several times more heat than dark, open ocean, which replaces the ice when it melts, Eisenman said.

As more summer sunlight dumps into the ocean, the water gets warmer, and it takes longer for ice to form again in the fall, Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland said in an email. He was not part of the study.

While earlier studies used computer models, Eisenman said his is the first to use satellite measurements to gauge sunlight reflection and to take into account cloud cover. The results show the darkening is as much as two to three times bigger than previous estimates, he said.

Box and University of Colorado ice scientist Waleed Abdalati, who was not part of the research, called the work important in understanding how much heat is getting trapped on Earth.

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MIKE February 18 2014 at 6:32 AM

Somehow it would appear that what the grandparents explained and what the scientist are now "discovering" begin to match more and more. Is this the worst in history or just the worst in recorded history? No mention was made as to what it would take to slow the process. In an ancient culture it might be considered that the volcanic ash content in the atmosphere is a key??

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maxxxenem7771 February 18 2014 at 7:15 AM

This article is really funny like Al Gore is really funny...Ha ha ha!

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dean552014 February 18 2014 at 7:21 AM

get a big box-- and put all the--- Y2K-- Mayan calender--Ancent Aliens-- and global warming people in it----- then they can fret their life away with worry

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usapaydirt February 18 2014 at 7:49 AM

Before there was an Ice Age, there was none, before there were glaciers there were none, before there was a Hawaii there was none. What is truth, is the Earth and in fact the entire Cosmos are locked in a constant state of change, and the only thing we can do about it is, if the water is rising, built on higher ground. If the storms are stronger, build stronger homes, if however a big space rock decides to hit Earth, All bets are off and we can all kiss our ass's goodbye......

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1 reply
John usapaydirt February 18 2014 at 8:11 AM

Great post !! Way to much commonsense for the Libs to handle .

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melhendrex February 18 2014 at 7:29 AM

In 2004, Al Gore said the polar ice caps would be gone by 2012. This year, the polar ice caps grew by hundreds of miles. When ‘global warming” didn’t happen, they changed the name to “climate change”, now Kerry states its weather of mass destruction.

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sefomsn February 18 2014 at 7:25 AM

The global warming idiots just can't let it alone. When their original BS was debunked they created new crap ideas. Now something new again. Just let Mother Earth do her thing. It has been going on for billions of years. To think that humans could effect nature to the degree the global alarmists believe is not logical. We are but a spot on a vast canvas. We should respect her and not intentionally harm Mother Earth but get real and stop wasting our country's time and money.

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1 reply
cessnatx sefomsn February 18 2014 at 8:11 AM

Exactly....I'm all for not throwing plastic bottles in the Oceans....or anything anywhere if it's not biodegradeable ....and I don't mean but a few months...not years or hundreds of years...and no more dumping engine oil in the woods....but let's please all get real....As I said earlier....until we can put things in perspective...let's not waste so much time and effort on nothing....It's nature folks

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James M. Adams February 18 2014 at 7:19 AM

The serious gloom and doom is not projected to occur until after I'm gone. I have no plans to give up on gasoline. I use it every day. So do you. It makes our lives easier. If it's inevitable, and it's not going to happen until all of us are in a pine box, why not go to the beach and enjoy?

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rutch8 February 18 2014 at 7:16 AM

the cold is from all the light bulbs al got rich off. see they worked. hahahahaha

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James M. Adams February 18 2014 at 7:46 AM

This stuff is a tough sell during a particularly cold and snowy winter.

Come back in July, you might have more takers.

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2 replies
nam2205 James M. Adams February 18 2014 at 8:04 AM

LOL, no kidding.

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eh92126 James M. Adams February 18 2014 at 2:46 PM

Heat wave in California. I am still growing tomatoes from last Spring.

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James M. Adams February 18 2014 at 7:09 AM

Is a believer with a high carbon footprint morally superior to a denier with a low carbon footprint?

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