Soot is accelerating snow melt in popular parts of Antarctica, a study finds
Soot pollution is accelerating climate-driven melting in Antarctica, a new study suggests, raising questions about how to protect the delicate continent from the increasing number of humans who want to visit.
Researchers estimate that soot, or black carbon, pollution in the most popular and accessible part of Antarctica is causing an extra inch of snowpack shrinkage every year.
The number of tourists visiting each year has ballooned from fewer than 10,000 in the early 1990s to nearly 75,000 people during the austral summer season that began in 2019, according to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators.
"It really makes us question, is our presence really needed?" says Alia Khan, a glaciologist at Western Washington University and one of the authors of the new study, which was published in the journal Nature Communications. "We have quite a large black carbon footprint in Antarctica, which is enhancing snow and ice melt."