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Bird Poop Could Have Cooling Effect On Warming Arctic: Research

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HALIFAX — Researchers say the droppings of small, migratory birds could be having a big impact on the Arctic environment.

A team at Dalhousie University in Halifax is leading a study on the connections between migratory Arctic seabirds, cloud formation and the Arctic climate.

They have found that the ammonia from Arctic seabird droppings is linked to the development of atmospheric aerosol particles, and that those particles spread throughout the Arctic, help cloud formation and create a cooling effect when they reflect more solar energy back into space.

They say that occurs as the clouds become brighter in the summer.

arctic seabird
Arctic terns fly over the the scientific base of Ny Alesund in the Svalbard archipelago on July 21, 2015. (Photo: Dominique Faget/AFP via Getty Images)

The team says the cooling effect created by the ammonia in their droppings is not enough to stem warming temperatures in the Arctic.

Members say it highlights the need for more research in the area.

"Our results show that ammonia from Arctic seabird-colony guano makes a key contribution to bursts of newly formed particles that are observed in the summertime Arctic,'' the report's authors write in Nature Communications.

"Our simulations indicate that growth of these seabird-influenced particles yield pan-Arctic-mean cooling tendencies.''

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