Far North Science

News, research and natural acts from Alaska

March 16th, 2007
Updated April 1, 2007 @ 1:01 pm

Dirty Pacific Haze

Scattered across sky like a film of dust over a window, vast quantities of tiny black soot and other industrial particulates from Southeast Asia have been spreading across the North Pacific each spring, becoming a major driver in climate change along the U.S. West Coast and Arctic.

Chart showing aerosol transport over the North Pacific in spring
Measurements from 2001 and 2004 show
springtime transport of black carbon
across the Pacific Ocean in spring.
Fang Li, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

More than 75 percent of the tiny bits and aerosol particles carried at high altitudes over western North America during spring comes from Asian industry and traffic, according to new research by Professor V. Ramanathan and his team at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego.

They found that the soot had a surprising impact — heating the sky over the Pacific Ocean much more than expected, perhaps has much as 40 percent of the forcing blamed on carbon dioxide over the past century.

“It was a major surprise,” said Ramanathan in a release. “When we came up with the preliminary results, we had to check it and recheck it.”

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March 16th, 2007
Updated April 1, 2007 @ 1:01 pm

Earth’s warmest winter

The Earth just simmered through the warmest boreal winter on record, despite unremarkable temperatures in the United States and a brutal cold snap across much of Alaska and the Far North.

Temperatures over land and ocean combined averaged 1.3° F above the 128-year mean for December, January and February, breaking the previous record set in 2002, according to an analysis published on-line this week by the National Climate Data Center.

Driving this statistical heat wave were temperatures that averaged 2.86° F above normal over land in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in Europe and Asia. The Northern Hemisphere’s ocean also set a record: 1.64° F above normal.

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