Arctic Sea-Ice Loss and Literal Darkening of the Arctic Causing Warming Amplification

Paul Beckwith

Jan 7, 2020

I am back after my much needed holiday break. I am chomping at the bit and ready to go. Here I discuss how the Arctic region (from 80 to 90 degrees N) albedo (reflectivity) declined from reflecting 52% of sunlight in 1979 to reflecting only 48% of the sunlight in 2011. This decline occurred mostly in regions where the Arctic sea ice melted out, and was not compensated by cloud cover since the latter did not increase significantly. Arctic temperatures thus increased by 3x the global average.

Darkening Arctic with Loss of Sea-Ice and Snow Cover, Consequences of Blue-Ocean State: Part 2 of 2

How much Arctic darkening will occur with an ice-free Arctic Ocean (Blue-Ocean State)? How much more warming will occur? To get a handle on the answers I continue to delve into the scientific literature. According to a recent paper, the annually-averaged Arctic Ocean planetary albedo under ice-free and cloud-free conditions would be 14% over the region. Compare this to the estimated cloud-free albedo of 39% in 1979. The Arctic is becoming a much Darker place; cloud growth does not compensate for ice loss.

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