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2012-06-16. The melting north

posted Jul 26, 2012, 11:26 AM by Lisa Ou
| by James Astill, The Economist. An article relevant to GSS Climate Change chapter 8. Excerpt: Almost all Arctic glaciers have receded. The area of Arctic land covered by snow in early summer has shrunk by almost a fifth since 1966. But it is the Arctic Ocean that is most changed...the north-west passage, a sea lane through Canada's 36,000-island Arctic Archipelago, [is left] ice-free for the first time in memory. Almost all Arctic glaciers have receded...Scientists, scrambling to explain this, found that in 2007 every natural variation, including warm weather, clear skies and warm currents, had lined up to reinforce the seasonal melt. But last year there was no such remarkable coincidence: it was as normal as the Arctic gets these days. And the sea ice still shrank to almost the same extent. There is no serious doubt about the basic cause of the warming. It is, in the Arctic as everywhere, the result of an increase in heat-trapping atmospheric gases, mainly carbon dioxide released when fossil fuels are burned. Because the atmosphere is shedding less solar heat, it is warming—a physical effect predicted back in 1896 by Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish scientist. But why is the Arctic warming faster than other places?.... Read more: http://www.economist.com/node/21556798