We have read endless articles about how the glaciers are melting and global sea levels are rising but have you ever heard of ‘Dark Snow’? The phenomenon of ‘Dark Snow’ is being recorded from the Himalayas to the Arctic as increasing amounts of dust from bare soil, soot from fires and ultra-fine particles of ‘black carbon’ from industry and diesel engines being whipped up and deposited sometimes thousands of miles away. The collection of dust and pollutants is reducing the reflectivity of the snow making it absorb more sunlight which doubles the melting speed of ice.
Once melting begins, the surface gets yet darker due to increased water content accelerating the melting process further. When American geologist, Ulyana Horodyskyj set up a mini weather station at 5,800m on Mount Himlung, on the Nepal-Tibet border, she looked east towards Everest and was shocked. The world’s highest glacier, Khumbu, was turning visibly darker as particles of fine dust, blown by fierce winds, settled on the bright, fresh snow. Oneweek- old snow was turning black and brown before my eyes,” she said. Nearly invisible particles of ‘black carbon’ resulting from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels from diesel engines are being swept thousands of miles from industrial centres in the
US, Europe and south-east Asia, as is dust from Africa and the Middle East, where dust storms are becoming bigger as the land dries out, with increasingly long and deep droughts. Earlier this year, dust from the Sahara was swept north for several thousand miles, smothered Britain and reached all the way to Norway. Did we ever imagine that fumes from Acs, cars, generators, airplanes, degrading toxic wastes and forest fires can end up thousands of miles away from us and result in global warming? Stop for a moment, analyse your daily activities and goals, where you are headed and at the cost of what? Look at the bigger picture. It is okay to be ambitious, but not at the cost of our beautiful Mother Nature. Otherwise the day is not far, when she tires out and gives up on all of us.