Scientists' Explanation for Exploration 4

A Comparison of Polar and Tropical Regions

Greenland Meltponds
Melt Ponds, Northeastern Greenland
Image Credit: NASA

The main reason that polar regions are warming more quickly than tropical regions has to do with the reflectivity of the bright ice. Ice has a higher albedo and therefore a higher percentage of solar radiation is reflected back toward space. However, as snow and ice melt, the darker surfaces of the ground or oceans have a lower albedo and more solar radiation is absorbed, which amplifies warming.