Accelerating Ice Melt

Ocean ice has a way of melting very slowly at first, then faster and faster, until suddenly it is all gone. Why? Snow reflects 87% of the heat from the sun. But after it melts and exposes a bit of ocean, the water reflects only 7%. In other words, when ice melts, the earth’s surface turns instantly from the best reflector to the best absorber of heat. Technically, this is referred to as the albedo effect. In the arctic, much of the lost ice will not be regenerated for millennia because the open ocean absorbs too much heat. The arctic is more melted today that it has been at any time in the last million years. Because of albedo, there is no way to refreeze the arctic; all we can do now is prevent it from melting even more.

~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)