Saturday, July 14, 2007

Dirty Snow

Back in the old days, that is, the mid-70s when the prevailing scientific consensus was that we were about to enter a mini-ice age, concerns about how to warm up the Earth led to some fantastical schemes. One of these, reported in Newsweek's April 28, 1975 issue was to blanket the polar ice caps with soot, so they would absorb more heat from the sun and melt.

Well, the ice age never did materialize and so such extreme measures never had to be taken. But according to a story reported by the CBC, there is at least some evidence it would have worked. In fact, according to US researchers, dirty snow is responsible for at least one-third of the warming at the Arctic.

Soot generated by forest fires, industry and automobiles enters the atmosphere and later falls to the ground as dirty snow. This snow is darker and less reflective than clean snow, thereby absorbing more heat from the sun.

Of course, pollution contributes and the only way to reduce that is to start finding newer and cleaner fuels (something we will have to do eventually when our fossil fuel resources are depleted). However, some sources of the ash and soot, such as volcanic eruptions, are not under man's control.

More importantly, it fits the current climate scenario better than the carbon dioxide theory of global warming. Since Antartica isn't warming and since nearly all the warming is taking place in the Northern Hemisphere, with particularly measurable melting going on in the Arctic, the IPPC theory of anthropogenic climate change doesn't seem to play out.

1 comment:

Janus Torrell said...

I will tell those neighborhood kids to stop setting the volcano off.

good post :)