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Birds’ guano is cooling the Arctic

Each summer seabirds bring a lot of organic material to the Arctic; their guano can actually have a beneficial effect: slightly cooling the region threatened by climate change.

Gas ammonia is abundant in the Arctic air; it is released thanks to bacteria that feed on the birds’ poop releases about 40,000 tons of ammonia each year. Once it goes to air, the ammonia interacts with sulfuric acid and water, forming particles that become the nuclei around which water condenses, and the clouds are formed.

The cooling effects occur when the clouds are reflecting sunlight back into space, and clouds of smaller droplets reflect more sunlight. However, the effect is to small to offset climate change.

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