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Arctic Air Pollution: Origins and Impacts

Academic writings: Kathy S. Law and Andreas Stohl, Science 16 March 2007, Vol. 315. no. 5818, pp. 1537 - 1540

Notable warming trends have been observed in the Arctic. Although increased human-induced emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases are certainly the main driving factor, air pollutants, such as aerosols and ozone, are also important. Air pollutants are transported to the Arctic, primarily from Eurasia, leading to high concentrations in winter and spring (Arctic haze). Local ship emissions and summertime boreal forest fires may also be important pollution sources. Aerosols and ozone could be perturbing the radiative budget of the Arctic through processes specific to the region: Absorption of solar radiation by aerosols is enhanced by highly reflective snow and ice surfaces; deposition of light-absorbing aerosols on snow or ice can decrease surface albedo; and tropospheric ozone forcing may also be contributing to warming in this region. Future increases in pollutant emissions locally or in mid-latitudes could further accelerate global warming in the Arctic.