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Feature

Runaway Heat?

A darkening Arctic may accelerate warming trends there

By
11:06am, November 8, 2005

Slide into the black vinyl seat of a car that's been parked for hours on a sunny summer day, and your exposed skin will be assaulted by heat. On an 80°F (27°C) day, that dark vinyl can reach a scorching 180°F (82°C). If the material were white instead of black, it would reflect more of the sunlight, and the seat would be tens of degrees cooler. Now, imagine painting an entire region of the world in blacks instead of whites, and you'll understand climate-change researchers' concern that the dark-vinyl effect may be taking hold in the Arctic.

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