Seabirds help cool arctic summer temperatures

Seabirds who migrate north in the summer likely help cool the atmosphere thanks to ammonia-rich poop.

The summertime arctic climate is a balance of multiple factors, one where particle formation can have a noteworthy impact on cloud radiative effects. A study published Nature Communications used models of the arctic climate that suggest ammonia from seabird-colony guano is a key factor contributing to bursts of newly formed particles. These particles can grow through sulfuric acid and organic vapor condensation, covering enough ground to promote pan-Arctic cloud-droplet formation.

According to the researchers, “Our GCT simulations indicate sufficient growth of the seabird-colony-influenced particles that the number of particles larger than 80 nm (N80) increases throughout the summertime Arctic surface layer by 10–50% over most of the Arctic Ocean, with the largest changes near the major seabird colonies, particularly in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago region, and also along the eastern coast of Greenland, towards Iceland.”

Researchers also noted that as the arctic climate warms, seabird migratory patterns could change and affect this balance in the future, as could pollution.

Photo credit: © iStock/MyImages_Micha

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