Snowflakes are making the Arctic warm faster by acting like a blanket

Two polar bears on the ice

Snowflakes act like an Arctic blanket

All Canada Photos / Alamy Stock Photo

Falling snowflakes in the Arctic are trapping extra heat, which could be enough to speed up the melting of sea ice. The effect could mean Arctic seas become ice-free up to 20 years earlier than expected.

“It’s counter-intuitive because we think of snowflakes as being cold, but they’re slow-falling ice particles that act like blankets,” says Frank Li of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Sea ice in the Arctic tends to melt faster than forecast. So the team compared …