More Rain Means Less Snow Means Faster Arctic Ice Melt

According to new research presented at the XXV International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics General Assembly in Melbourne, Australia, rising temperatures in the Arctic have led to an increase in the amount of rainfall, and thus, a decrease in the amount of snowfall.

This makes the sea ice which forms each winter around the Arctic more susceptible to melting, as temperatures are too warm for protective snow to form.

Published in the journal Climate Dynamics, the study was conducted by Dr James Screen and Professor Ian Simmonds of the University of Melbourne’s School of Earth Sciences.

“As a result of this temperature shift, we estimate that there has been a 40 percent decrease in summer snowfall over the last 20 years,” said Screen. “The reductions in snowfall in the summer months (when there is still typically significant snow in Arctic regions) have knock-on effects for the sea ice – the ice floating on top of the Arctic Ocean.”

“Snow is highly reflective and bounces up to 85 percent of the incoming sunlight back into space. Snow on top of ice effectively acts as a sunscreen protecting the ice from the power of the sun rays,” he added. “As the snow cover has decreased, more sea ice has become exposed to the sunlight, increasing the melting of the ice. Measurements show that the sea ice has been getting thinner and less extensive.”

Source: University of Melbourne
Image Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top