19 July 2010

Chemists in examination of arctic climate change

By Jes Andersen

As the ice pulls back from the arctic regions oil explorers, fishermen and tourists are preparing to flock the sensitive areas. Now a pan-Nordic research project is aiming to uncover the consequences to arctic climates of human activities. Several of the researchers in the project are members of the Copenhagen Center for Atmospheric Research at the Department of Chemistry.

Merete Bilde. One of the Copenhagen Chemists taking part in the arctic climate project

New explanation for rapid arctic climate change

For years researchers have tended to blame the so-called Ice-Albedo feedback when trying to explain the very rapid climate changes in the arctic. A dark earth surface retains more solar heat. But as long as the surface is covered in white ice, the atmosphere is kept cool by the reflective capacity of the ice.
This cool balance can be difficult to maintain when humans start to park dark objects such as houses and cars on the ice. If the vehicles emit diesel particles which might dye the surface darker yet, the ice-albedo balance might pass the tipping point irretrievably.

Pan-Nordic and interdisciplinary

The project is led by Markku Kulmala of the university of Helsinki in Finland. Among the Danes participating are Merete Bilde, Matthew Johnson and Henrik Kjærsgaard. All from the CCARgroup at the Department of Chemistry in Copenhagen
Read more here