Thursday, April 05, 2007

Red Planet causes green faces to Redden

“Global warming could be heating Mars four times faster than Earth due to a mutually reinforcing interplay of wind-swept dust and changes in reflected heat from the Sun, according a study released Wednesday.”

The study, published on Thursday by the British journal Nature, shows for the first time that these variations not only result from the storms but help cause them too.

It also suggests that short-term climate change is currently occurring on Mars and at a much faster rate than on Earth.

Its authors, led by Lori Fenton, a planetary scientist at NASA, describe the phenomenon as a "positive feedback" system -- in other words, a vicious circle, in which changes in albedo strengthen the winds which in turn kicks up more dust, in turn adding to the warming.

In the same way, if a snow-covered area on Earth warms and the snow melts, the reflected light decreases and more solar radiation is absorbed, causing local temperatures to increase. If new snow falls, a cooling cycle starts.


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