Study Blames Humans for Half of Recent Arctic Ice Melt

August 16, 2011 11:56AM

A new study funded by the National Science Foundation is the first to attribute a specific proportion of the record Arctic ice melt to greenhouse gases and particulates from pollution. The study says about half the record ice loss is related to the increasing greenhouse gases, and that conditions will become more volatile from year to year.

About half the recent record loss of Arctic sea ice can be blamed on global warming caused by human activity, according to a new study by scientists from the nation's leading climate research center.

The peer-reviewed study, funded by the National Science Foundation is the first to attribute a specific proportion of the ice melt to greenhouse gases and particulates from pollution.

The study used supercomputers and one of the world's most sophisticated climate models to reach its conclusions, said lead author Jennifer Kay, a staff scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. The paper was published last week in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Kay said her study was an attempt to learn how much Arctic Ocean melting can be attributed to "natural variability" -- complex changes wrought by nonhuman forces -- and how much has been caused by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and by atmospheric particulates.