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More Arctic lightning is bad news for the planet

More Arctic lightning is bad news for the planet


It is not Arctic making it so hot. That is, in fact, also hot. It’s heating up at least twice as fast like the rest of the planet, it is launching a vicious loop of opinion that is accelerating change. Ice, for example, is more reflective than the earth, so when it melts, the region absorbs more solar energy. The vegetation is darker growing in northern lands, absorbing even more heat from the sun. When permafrost thaws, it releases streams of greenhouse gases, which further warm the climate.

The Arctic has been so bearded that lightning — the warmest phenomenon most common in tropical weather — is now striking around the North Pole. And according to new models, the electric bombing in the region will get worse. By the end of the century, the number of Arctic lightning strikes could have doubled, which could lead to a huge cascade of effects, which could lead to more fires and greater warming. “The Arctic is a fast-changing place, and I’m not sure it’s an aspect of transformation that has gotten much attention, but it’s really important,” says UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain. in research.

You need a lot of heat to make thunderstorms. When the sun heats the earth, hot air and moisture rise into the atmosphere. At the same time, the cold air in the system sinks. It creates a rotating mass known as a deep convective cloud, which creates electrical charges that turn into lightning.

Lightning struck the northern tip of Canada

Photo: Sandra Angers-Blondin

This is normal in the tropics for a lot of heat, but the Arctic would need to be cold enough to withstand this large-scale rise in hot air. Already, apparently. “With warming of the surface, you will have more energy to push the air to high latitudes,” says Yang Chen, a climate scientist at UC Irvine, the lead author of a new paper. paper in Natural Climate Change describing modeling. “And also because the atmosphere is warmer, it can contain more water vapor.”

You come together and have big, bright storms that are now moving 100 miles from the North Pole. (Scientists can determine strikes in a remote region global network of radio detectors: When a bolt hits the ground, it actually becomes a kind of radio tower, throwing a signal.) And when you have lightning, you have the potential for fire, especially as the Arctic heats up and dries up. “The 2020 heat wave The Arctic in Russia shows how, even at high latitudes, very mild weather can be caused, burns can be severe and can cause very large fires, “says ecologist Isla Myers-Smith, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh. “A burned many surfaces In the 2020 fire season in the Russian Arctic. “



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