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Impact of CO2 on cooling of snow and water surfaces


THE levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are being increased by the burning of fossil fuels and reduction of biomass1–3. It has been calculated that the increase in CO2 levels should lead to global warming because of increased absorption by the atmosphere of terrestrial longwave radiation in the far IR (>5 μm)4–7. From model computations, CO2 is expected to produce the largest climatic effect in high latitudes by reducing the size of ice and snow fields4. We present here computations of spectral radiative transfer and scattering within a snow pack and water. The results suggest that CO2 significantly reduces the shortwave energy absorbed by the surface of snow and water. The energy deficit, when not compensated by downward atmospheric radiation, may delay the recrystallisation of snow and dissipation of pack-ice and result in a cooling rather than a warming effect.

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CHOUDHURY, B., KUKLA, G. Impact of CO2 on cooling of snow and water surfaces. Nature 280, 668–671 (1979).

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