Black carbon, or soot. And microorganisms and algal blooms.

They’re important pieces of the grand melting rates of Greenland’s ice sheets. And they’re best considered in the context of an increasing number of fires taking place worldwide in recent years.

Important, but overlooked, according to some scientists looking closely at the Greenland melting.

It’s no secret that light surfaces reflect and that dark surfaces absorb sunlight. But the current monthly “This is Not Cool” Yale Climate Connections video, by Peter Sinclair, looks afresh at the “dark snow” and its impacts. One scientist suggesting that in darkening the icy surfaces and reducing albedo, the darker surfaces may add as much as 20 to 30 percent of the melting.

The darker icy surfaces also result in more liquid water on those surfaces, and that liquid water leads to increased algae growth: More liquid water leads to more algal blooms and growth. It’s another one of those “positive feedbacks” that is anything but positive – read favorable – when it comes to hoping to reduce melting of ice sheets.

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