Pollutant Haze Heats The Arctic

The effect makes the Arctic 2 degrees to 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer during polluted, cloudy episodes than it would be if the air was clean.

Published: 12-May-2006

Arctic climate already is known to be particularly prone to global warming caused by industrial and automotive emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Now, a University of Utah study finds a surprising new way society's pollutants warm the far north: the Arctic's well-known haze -- made of particulate pollution from mid-latitude cities -- mixes with thin clouds, making them better able to trap heat.

The effect makes the Arctic 2 degrees to 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer during polluted, cloudy episodes than it would be if the air was clean, concludes the study by Tim Garrett, an assistant professor of meteorology, and Chuanfeng Zhao, a doctoral student in meteorology.

"The Arctic is warming very quickly, especially compared with the rest of the world, due to the greenhouse effect caused by carbon dioxide from factories and cars," Garrett says.

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