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How much heat in the Arctic?

How much heat in the Arctic?

Computer models predict that the expected greenhouse warming will heat Earth's polar regions far more than the midlatitudes or tropical areas, but scientists have relatively little information on the current climate of these frigid locales. To fill in some of the details about the Arctic, U.S. and foreign scientists are launching a series of airborne experiments in March and April that will probe the atmosphere and ice around the Fram Strait in the northern Greenland Sea.

Led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this project includes three separate studies of the Arctic climate and meteorology, says Russell Schnell of NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences in Boulder, Colo. In one investigation, Schnell and his colleagues will measure the net amount of solar radiation the Arctic absorbs. They will also examine the climate effects of Arctic haze, the infamous pollution that travels to the most northern latitudes from Europe and the Sovie Union. Says Schnell, "The Arctic is as polluted in winter and early spring as any place you'll ever find in North America."

Another group will investigate how leads, or cracks in the Arctic ice pack, affect temperatures. Because ocean temperatures cannot fall far below 0[deg.]C and the winter Arctic air is often 30[deg.] to 40[deg]C cooler, leads release a tremendous amount of heat into the atmosphere. Earlier studies have shown that heat from these open areas can rise for miles, going straight up into the stratosphere, Schnell says.

The third project will focus on intense storm systems, called polar lows, that rapidly develop in the Arctic. Looking like small hurricanes, these storms can spring up in half a day, and they kill many fishermen each year, says Schnell.
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Title Annotation:research on Arctic climate
Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 25, 1989
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