Snow & Ice Cooling Planet Less Than They Did 30 Years Ago

arctic ice photo

photo: DorkyMum/Creative Commons

New research published in Nature Geoscience shows that snow and ice declines in the Northern Hemisphere over the past three decades means that less cooling is happening due to albedo feedback, and that current climate models don't reproduce this effect. Report co-author Karen Shell, from Oregon State University, says,

Though we don't necessarily attribute this to global warming, it is interesting to note that none of the climate models used for the 2007 International Panel on Climate Change [sic] report showed a decrease of this magnitude.

Some of the decline may be natural climate variability. Thirty years isn't a long enough time period to attribute this entirely to...anthropogenic influence. But the loss of cooling is significant. That rate of energy being absorbed by the Earth through cryosphere decline--instead of being reflected back to the atmosphere--is almost 30% of the rate of extra energy absorption due to carbon dioxide increase between pre-industrial values and today. (Science Codex)

Read the original research: Radiative forcing and albedo feedback from the Northern Hemisphere cryosphere between 1979 and 2008
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