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Soot pollution from southern Asia appears to be contributing to climate changes at the North Pole, raising atmospheric temperatures and speeding up the melting of snow and sea ice, according to a study by scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The researchers, who have been tracking the effects of soot, or black carbon emissions around the globe using satellite imaging, believe they have found a link between the timing of Arctic warming and ice loss and deposits of tiny particles from man-made pollution during the late 20th century.

The findings, which support earlier conclusions, demonstrate that the climate changes affecting the Arctic region are complex and may be a result of traditional pollution as well as global warming from the release of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

The findings also show that most of pollution does not come from smokestacks and tailpipes in the developed world, but from industrial emissions in south Asia and forest fires and other burning of vegetation around the planet.

The study, co-authored by Dorothy Koch of Columbia University and James Hansen of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

-- Los Angeles Times