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Sun Sep 22, 2019, 04:56 AM

Scientists suspect retreating sea ice is changing the color of Alaska's tundra

Biologists say early retreating sea ice is potentially causing vegetation productivity changes on the tundra across Alaska and the Arctic. Uma Bot, a climate variability expert with the University of Alaska–Fairbanks, says the land warms up more quickly when sea ice recedes earlier than usual.

“‘Cause the tundra is temperature limited and if it has more warmth available during the course of the summer, things can grow more,” Bot said. “That’s the first order effect, but what I think has happened is as the sea ice has gone away even further each year from the coast; there’s more time for open water, and that has led, I think, to increased cloudiness.”

Bot says more cloudiness can cool temperatures and potentially reduce plants’ photosynthetic activity or “greening.”

According to a publication recently released by the University of Alaska–Fairbanks and the International Arctic Research Center, the tundra on the North Slope has shown the most “greening” over the last five years than any other region in the state.

Read more: https://www.alaskapublic.org/2019/09/20/scientists-suspect-retreating-sea-ice-is-changing-the-color-of-alaskas-tundra/

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