Arctic ice more vulnerable to sunny weather, new study shows

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Washington, Apr 23 (UNI) Extream summer sunshine is depleting the Arctic ice sheets, claims researchers.

Unusually sunny weather contributed to last summer's record loss of Arctic ice, while similar weather conditions in past summers do not appear to have had comparable impacts.

''In a warmer world, the thinner sea ice is becoming increasingly sensitive to year-to-year variations in weather and cloud patterns,'' said the lead author Jennifer Kay.

''A single unusually clear summer can now have a dramatic impact,'' he said.

The findings indicate that summer sunshine in the Arctic produces more pronounced melting than in the past, largely because there is now less ice to reflect solar radiation back into space.

As a result, the presence or absence of clouds now has greater implications for sea ice loss.

Satellite data offer clues to record-shattering 2007 melt Last summer's loss of Arctic sea ice set a modern-day record, with the ice extent shrinking to a minimum of about 1.6 million square miles (4.1 million square kilometers) in September.

That was 43 per cent less ice coverage than in 1979, when accurate satellite observations began.

''Our research indicates that the relative importance of solar radiation in the summer is changing,'' Kay said adding ''The sunshine reaching the Arctic is increasingly influential, as there is less ice to reflect it back into space. Dry, sunny conditions in a single summer can now act as a potent force to melt sea ice.'' UNI XC SZ DS1050

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