From Big Melt to Big Swamp
By Stephen Leahy
Jun 5 (IPS) – The Earth is going dark. From the Arctic Ocean to the Himalayan mountains to the Russian tundra, ice and snow are in rapid and permanent retreat in response to global warming, a new U.N. report said Tuesday.
Glaciers, ice sheets, sea and river ice are all melting. The areas in the northern hemisphere covered by snow and ice have declined 1.3 percent per decade for the past four decades. And that’s expected to accelerate dramatically in the coming years.
“Around the Earth, white is being replaced by dark,” said Gunnar Sander of the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromso, Norway.
The white — snow and ice — reflect sunlight while the dark — bare ground and open water — absorb the heat from sunlight, increasing the pace of global warming.
“This is affecting the heat balance of the planet,” Sander told IPS.