North Pole Puddles Are Important After All

Remember those puddles at the North Pole that at first everyone said were not important, then when someone realized that they were only puddles so a new meme formed and everyone said they are not important? They're important. From the abstract of a new study, just out:

The surface albedo of the Arctic sea-ice zone is a crucial component in the energy budget of the Arctic region. The treatment of sea-ice albedo has been identified as an important source of variability in the future sea-ice mass loss forecasts in coupled climate models. ... Here we present an analysis of observed changes in the mean albedo of the Arctic sea-ice zone using a data set consisting of 28 years of homogenized satellite data. Along with the albedo reduction resulting from the well-known loss of late-summer sea-ice cover, we show that the mean albedo of the remaining Arctic sea-ice zone is decreasing.

New Scientist reports that the darkening is a result of the ice getting thinner and "... the formation of open water fissures, and partly because in the warmer air, ponds of liquid water form on the surface of the ice. The shallow ponds on the ice can dramatically reduce reflectivity and increase the amount of solar radiation that the ice absorbs."

So now let's get a new meme going. Maybe something with a polar bear and a puddle and .... a shark, because this is shark month after all!

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