Washington: A team of scientists have identified a new driver behind the Arctic region warming and sea ice melting.
The researchers from the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) studied a long-wavelength region of the electromagnetic spectrum called far infrared that is invisible to naked eyes, but accounts for about half the energy emitted by the Earth's surface.
The scientists found that open oceans are much less efficient than sea ice when it comes to emitting in the far-infrared region of the spectrum, which means that the Arctic Ocean traps much of the energy in far-infrared radiation, a previously unknown phenomenon that is likely contributing to the warming of the polar climate.
Lead author Daniel Feldman said that far-infrared surface emissivity is an unexplored topic, but it deserves more attention as their research found that non-frozen surfaces are poor emitters compared to frozen surfaces and this discrepancy has a much bigger impact on the polar climate than today's models indicate.
Feldman added that based on their findings, they recommend that more efforts be made to measure far-infrared surface emissivity as these measurements will help climate models better simulate the effects of this phenomenon on the Earth's climate.
The study is published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.