They’ve found tiny black particles in the Arctic snow and ice that have come from the burning of fossil fuels, agricultural fields, trees, and grasslands thousands of miles away.
The team secured $2.3 million from NSF and NASA for the project, the Sunlight Absorption on the Greenland ice sheet Experiment, known as SAGE. The SAGE team’s Pisten bully and snow machine at sunset.
Within a week or so of its emission, it tumbles from the sky, on its own or in rain or snow, sometimes landing on snow, glaciers, or sea ice. On their first day on the ice sheet, the wind mercilessly whipped tiny snow particles at their faces.
Using ice cores that date back to 1750 and surface samples from 2012 taken at four study sites in Greenland, including Summit Station, Kaitlin Keegan, a graduate student at Dartmouth College, looked for links between black carbon from wildfires and widespread melting of the Greenland ice sheet.
The ice surrounding this climate station is covered in “Light absorbing impurities,” outcropping mineral dust, black carbon and other aerosol impurities, and ice algae.
His team plans to camp on the ice sheet for two and a half months, using a drone to measure the ice sheet’s reflectance.