Image taken from small drone shows vast area of what should be white snowy surface to be darkened by soot. the dark surface absorbs heat speeding up melting as shown by the thousands of rivers of melt water
Photo Credit: Jason Box- GEUS

Soot from Canadian wildfires increases melting on Greenland

Researchers studying Greenland’s massive ice-sheet are making some worrisome findings.

Danish-born glaciologist Jason Box who has studied glaciers for two-decades is in the second year of a study called the Dark Snow project. He is with the Geological Survey of Greenland and Denmark.

null
Extent of surface melt over Greenland’s ice sheet on July 8, 2012 (left) and then just a few days later July 12 (right). On July 8, roughly 40 percent of the ice sheet had undergone thawing but by July 12, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface had thawed. © Nicolo E. DiGirolamo, SSAI/NASA GSFC, and Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory

They found that soot is covering immense areas of the ice-sheet, darkening in and increasing its heat absorbtion, causing melting to increase. The soot may be from a variety of sources including burning of coal, diesel, dung and wood.

It’s also thought that greatly increased soot this year is due to the record number of fires in Canada’s Northwest territories Some 3.5 million hectares of forest went up in smoke in the NWT alone this year, while many other huge wildfires occurred in all provinces in Canada’s boreal forest area. Although it’s considered the end of the fire season, several wildfires are still burning.

Melting attributed to conditions created by human-induced climate change. 

Mike Flannigan, of the University of Alberta Director of the Western Partnership for Wildland Fire Science says, forest fires used to average 1 million hectares a year, but now average double that saying its due to human induced climate change.

A French research team also reports increased dust covering the glacier. They indicate it may come from elsewhere in the Arctic as snow cover melts earlier in the season due to climate change.

null
Date from GRACE staellites Greenland experienced a steady ice loss of 200 billion tons annually, which could stack up on all of Manhattan to nearly 12,000 feet, or more than eight times taller than the Empire State Building. Researches estimated that the annual acceleration in ice loss is roughly increasing by 8 billion tons every year. © Image-Christopher Harig (Princeton University)

As the Greenland sheet is darkened, its “albedo” or the reflective quality of the white snow and ice is diminished. Scientists say even a slight reduction in the albedo will have a significant affect on the ice sheet.

A recent study using the European Cryosat2 and based on reprocessed and improved data between 2003 and 2008, reports an average trend of ice-loss of Greenland’s ice sheet of over 190 cubic kilometers per year.   Analysis of ice loss from GRACE estimates are somewhat lower but still surprisingly worrisome at 145 cubic kilometers a year.

Box says the increased melting will have an effect on sea-level rise around the world.

The findings of Jason Box and his team have yet to be peer-reviewed but he released the images this week in hopes that those attending the international climate talks at the UN would get the message.

Journal Cryosphere : ice loss abstract

NOAA Arctic report card 2013

Dark Snow Project

Princeton news- GRACE

Mapping Greenland’s mass loss in space and time

Dark snow project video

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Environment, International, Science and Technology

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*

One comment on “Soot from Canadian wildfires increases melting on Greenland
  1. Peter Ashcroft says:

    Has there also been a change in the average wind direction from the southern parts of Canada towards the glacial areas of northern Canada and Greenland?