Document Detail

End of the Little Ice Age in the Alps forced by industrial black carbon.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  24003138     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Glaciers in the European Alps began to retreat abruptly from their mid-19th century maximum, marking what appeared to be the end of the Little Ice Age. Alpine temperature and precipitation records suggest that glaciers should instead have continued to grow until circa 1910. Radiative forcing by increasing deposition of industrial black carbon to snow may represent the driver of the abrupt glacier retreats in the Alps that began in the mid-19th century. Ice cores indicate that black carbon concentrations increased abruptly in the mid-19th century and largely continued to increase into the 20th century, consistent with known increases in black carbon emissions from the industrialization of Western Europe. Inferred annual surface radiative forcings increased stepwise to 13-17 W⋅m(-2) between 1850 and 1880, and to 9-22 W⋅m(-2) in the early 1900s, with snowmelt season (April/May/June) forcings reaching greater than 35 W⋅m(-2) by the early 1900s. These snowmelt season radiative forcings would have resulted in additional annual snow melting of as much as 0.9 m water equivalent across the melt season. Simulations of glacier mass balances with radiative forcing-equivalent changes in atmospheric temperatures result in conservative estimates of accumulating negative mass balances of magnitude -15 m water equivalent by 1900 and -30 m water equivalent by 1930, magnitudes and timing consistent with the observed retreat. These results suggest a possible physical explanation for the abrupt retreat of glaciers in the Alps in the mid-19th century that is consistent with existing temperature and precipitation records and reconstructions.
Thomas H Painter; Mark G Flanner; Georg Kaser; Ben Marzeion; Richard A Vancuren; Waleed Abdalati
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2013-9-3
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1091-6490     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.     Publication Date:  2013 Sep 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-9-4     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7505876     Medline TA:  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91109.
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