Deforestation, fossil fuel use drive glacial ice-loss

February 20th, 2012 - 3:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 20 (IANS) Rampant deforestation and fossil fuel use are accelerating ice-loss on glaciers by depositing carbon particles (soot) on their surfaces.

Carbon soot, which darkens glacier surfaces and increases their absorption of light and heat, is driving ice-loss, says a new study by the Woods Hole Research Center.

Robert Spencer and fellow scientists from Woods Hole have conducted much of their research at the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, Alaska, the journal Nature Geoscience reports.

Mendenhall and other glaciers that end their journey in the Gulf of Alaska receive a high rate of precipitation, which worsens soot deposition.

“We are finding this human-derived signature in a corner of the US that is traditionally viewed as being exceptionally pristine,” Spencer notes, according to a Woods Hole statement.

“The burning of biomass and fossil fuels has an impact that we can witness in these glacier systems although they are distant from industrial centres, and it highlights that the surface bio-geochemical cycles of today are universally post-industrial in a way we do not fully appreciate,” says Spencer.

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