Sunday, December 21, 2014 Headlines & Global News

Arctic Warming Caused by Heat Trapped in the Atmosphere

By Julie S | Feb 03, 2014 01:43 AM EST

Arctic Warming Caused by Heat Trapped in the Atmosphere
A new study found that the Arctic's temperature rise has been higher than any other part of the Earth. Scientists linked the shrinking ice and snow cover in the region on the heat being trapped in the atmosphere. (Photo : Reuters)

A new study found that the Arctic's temperature rise has been higher than any other part of the Earth. Scientists linked the shrinking ice and snow cover in the region on the heat being trapped in the atmosphere.

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According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), factors affecting Arctic weather and climate changes include latitude, temperature, and the mix of land and water which collectively affects the balance of heat in the Arctic region.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany led by climate scientist Felix Pithan studied the layer of air in the Polar Region to see if it has something to do with the rapid melting of the snow and ice. They described the Arctic atmosphere similar to a"layer cake" as it captures and traps the heat near the surface until layers are formed.

"In the Arctic, as the climate warms, most of the additional heat remains trapped in a shallow layer of the atmosphere close to the ground, not deeper than 1 or 2 kilometers [0.6 to 1.2 miles]," Pithan told LiveScience.com.

This thick layer of air prevents the atmosphere from releasing the excess heat thus causing warming in the region.

Researchers used advanced air layering and climate computer models to identify the interaction of the air to the warming caused by greenhouse gases. One of it is the ice-albedo feedback(or snow-albedo feedback) which measures the changes in the snow area including ice caps, glaciers and sea ice. In this climate model, researchers observed that as the air becomes cooler, more heat (about 85 percent) becomes trapped in the process.

According to the Arctic Climate Research at the University of Illinois website, the surface air temperature changes in the region during winter are the largest in the world exceeding 4 degrees Celsius, much higher than the temperature rise in land.

The study was published in the Feb. 2 issue of Nature Geoscience.

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