This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Soot May be Causing Some of the Arctic Melt

It is bad enough that global warming is having a marked effect in the Arctic. It now appears that the buildup of soot may help explain why the Arctic is actually warming up even faster than the rest of the planet. An international team of scientists, including Americans from NOAA, is literally digging into this issue.

Soot, or black carbon, is produced by auto and truck engines, aircraft emissions, burning forests and the use of wood- or coal-burning stoves.
"The Arctic serves as the air conditioner of the planet," explained Patricia Quinn of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, one of the research participants. Heat from other parts of the Earth moves to the Arctic in the circulating air and ocean water, and at least some of that warmth can radiate into space.
At the same time, some of the incoming heat from the sun that tends to be absorbed in other locations is reflected by the ice and snow, allowing the polar regions to serve as cooling agents for the planet.
But that may be changing.
In recent years, the Arctic has been warming more rapidly than other regions and, Quinn pointed out, the "warming of the Arctic has implications not just for polar bears, but for the entire planet."
Cutting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is the backbone of any effort to combat warming, both globally and within the Arctic, Quinn said.

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