There’s something cool about Arctic bird poop | Science News

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There’s something cool about Arctic bird poop

Ammonia from guano contributes to climate-cooling cloud creation

12:11pm, November 15, 2016
Arctic birds

FRIGID FECES  The poop left behind by the tens of millions of seabirds that flock to the Arctic each year helps cool the region’s climate, new research suggests.

Seabird poop helps the Arctic keep its cool, new research suggests.

The droppings release ammonia into the atmosphere, where it reacts with other chemicals in the air to form small airborne particles. Those particles form the heart of cloud droplets that reflect sunlight back into space, researchers propose November 15 in Nature Communications.

Even though the poop’s presence provides only modest cooling, understanding the effect could help scientists better predict how the region will fare under future climate change, says study coauthor Greg Wentworth. “The humor is not lost on me,” says Wentworth, an atmospheric chemist at Alberta Environment and Parks in Canada. “It’s a crucial connection, albeit somewhat comical.”

Arctic air temperatures are rising about twice as fast as temperatures in lower latitudes (

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