Arctic region warming fastest on earth

Temperatures are becoming too warm in polar region for protective snow to form.

Last Updated: Jul 04, 2011, 11:19 AM IST

Sydney: Experts have warned that the Arctic region is warming at the fastest pace on earth because of rising air temperatures, more rainfall and decreasing snowfall, consequently melting sea ice.

James Screen, who led the study with Ian Simmonds, at the Melbourne University`s School of Earth Sciences, said that due to warming temperatures -- on more days and in more parts of the polar region -- temperatures are becoming too warm for protective snow to form.

"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."

"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," the journal Climate Dynamics quoted him as saying.

"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," said Screen.

"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," concluded Screen.

IANS