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    Warming from Arctic Sea Ice Melting More Dramatic than Thought

    By By Laura Poppick, Staff Writer
    February 18, 2014, 7:39:08 AM EST

    Melting Arctic sea ice has contributed considerably more to warming at the top of the world than previously predicted by climate models, according to a new analysis of 30 years of satellite observations.

    Sea ice helps cool the Arctic by reflecting incoming solar radiation back into space. Because of its light color, sea ice has what is known as high albedo, which is the percentage of solar radiation a surface reflects back to space. Dark ocean water left behind by melting sea ice, on the other hand, has a low albedo, usually measuring less than 20 percent, whereas bare sea ice generally measures between 50 and 70 percent, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

    Since as early as the 1960s, scientists have hypothesized that melting sea ice amplifies global warming by decreasing Arctic albedo. Researchers have since devised climate models to demonstrate this phenomenon but, until now, nobody had relied entirely on satellite data to confirm this effect through time. [See Stunning Photos of Earth's Vanishing Ice]


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