Tree Frog Forestry News

Forest fire soot likely contributed to record Greenland ice melt

May 30, 2014

In July 2012, over 97% of the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet melted… The event was unusual not only because of the vast extent of the melt, but also because warmer air temperatures in previous years had not caused similar melting. This led scientists to suspect that something besides air temperatures may have played a role in the melt. Scientists collected firn cores, which are similar to ice cores but consist of packed granular snow, and surface snow samples from several different locations in Greenland and analyzed them for black carbon. Black carbon or soot that originates from forest fires and fossil fuel emissions in lower latitudes can be transported over long distances to Greenland. Once deposited on the ice sheet, the black carbon reduces the snow’s capacity to reflect sunlight and contributes to warming.