Contaminants and pollution
(Randy Boswell/Canwest News Service, 27 May 2009) -- The collapse of the Soviet Union and the loosening of state control over crop burning in Russia has had an unexpected impact in the Canadian North: the unleashing of massive amounts of soot that is settling on Arctic sea ice and speeding the ongoing polar meltdown. How the end of the Cold War has fuelled Arctic warming is detailed in a new report by U.S. scientists that points a finger at Saskatchewan farmers for sending some "black carbon" into the Arctic environment but largely blames Russia for the rising number of smoke plumes drifting north and creating a "critical" challenge for Canada and other polar nations. The findings were released ahead of an international meeting next week at the University of New Hampshire aimed at curbing the impact of agricultural burning—a problem scientists say has emerged as a major factor in Arctic warming and thinning sea ice. "These fires weren't part of our standard predictions, they weren't in our models," said Daniel Jacob, a Harvard University climate researcher who participated in a multi-agency U.S. government experiment last spring off the northern coast of Alaska. Teams of scientists led by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy gathered data on long-range polar pollutants and used NASA's DC-8 "flying laboratory" to sample smoke plumes drifting over Alaska and parts of Arctic Canada.
Posted 27 May 2009; 4:39:23 PM. Permalink