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Black Carbon Pollution Emerges As Major Player In Global Warming

Black carbon, a form of particulate air pollution most often produced from biomass burning, cooking with solid fuels and diesel exhaust, has a warming effect in the atmosphere three to four times greater than prevailing estimates, according to scientists in an upcoming review article in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Soot in the higher latitudes of the Earth, where ice is more common, absorbs more of the sun's energy and warmth than an icy, white background. Black carbon, or soot, absorbs sunlight, while lighter colored ice reflects sunlight.

Soot in areas with snow and ice may play an important role in climate change. Also, if snow and ice-covered areas begin melting, the warming effect increases, as the soot becomes more concentrated on the snow surface. "This provides a positive feedback (i.e. warming); as glaciers and ice sheets melt, they tend to get even dirtier," said Dr James Hansen.

Elimination of black carbon, a contributor to global warming and a public health hazard, offers a nearly instant return on investment, the researchers said. Black carbon particles only remain airborne for weeks at most compared to carbon dioxide, which remains in the atmosphere for more than a century. In addition, technology that could substantially reduce black carbon emissions already exists in the form of commercially available products.

Here's some articles on this topic:
Black Carbon Pollution Emerges As Major Player In Global Warming
Black soot and snow:
A warmer combination