Cloud-Making Aerosol Could Devastate Polar Sea Ice

The Extinction Chronicles

An overlooked but powerful driver of cloud formation could accelerate the loss of polar sea ice.


Photograph showing cirrus clouds in a blue sky above an expanse of flat, snow-covered ice.
Cirrus clouds float over sea ice in northwest Greenland. Melting sea ice releases iodine into the atmosphere, which can rapidly mix with other trace gases to form particles that seed the growth of new clouds, a recent study found.Bryan & Cherry Alexander / Science Source

Max KozlovWriting Intern

February 23, 2021

VIEW PDF/PRINT MODEAbstractions BlogAtmospheric ScienceClimate ModelsClimate SciencePhysicsAll Topics

To climate scientists, clouds are powerful, pillowy paradoxes: They can simultaneously reflect away the sun’s heat but also trap it in the atmosphere; they can be products of warming temperatures but can also amplify their effects. Now, while studying the atmospheric chemistry that produces clouds, researchers have uncovered an unexpectedly potent natural process that seeds their growth. They further suggest that, as the Earth continues…

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