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.
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.