Spring agricultural fires can accelerate Arctic meltingMay 27th, 2009 - 1:57 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, May 27 (ANI): A research has found that agricultural fires during spring have an adverse impact on the melting Arctic, because the black carbon or soot produced by the fires can lead to accelerated melting of snow and ice.
The two-year international field campaign known as POLARCAT was conducted most intensively during two three-week periods last spring and summer and focused on the transport of pollutants into the Arctic from lower latitudes.
One surprise discovery was that large-scale agricultural burning in Russia, Kazakhstan, China, the US, Canada, and the Ukraine is having a much greater impact than previously thought.
A particular threat is posed by springtime burning - to remove crop residues for new planting or clear brush for grazing - because the black carbon or soot produced by the fires can lead to an increased melting of snow and ice.
Soot, which is produced through incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels, may account for as much as 30 percent of Arctic warming to date, according to recent estimates.
Soot can warm the surrounding air and, when deposited on ice and snow, absorb solar energy and add to the melting process.
In addition to soot, other short-lived pollutants include ozone and methane.
Although global warming is largely the result of excess accumulation of carbon dioxide (CO2), the Arctic is highly sensitive to short-lived pollutants.
During the UNH workshop, a report by the Clean Air Task Force detailing some of the campaign’s findings on agricultural burning and transport to the Arctic will be officially released.
“Targeting these emissions offers a supplemental and parallel strategy to carbon dioxide reductions, with the advantage of a much faster temperature response, and the benefit of health risk reductions,” said Ellen Baum, senior scientist of the Clean Air Task Force.
“In addition, we have the know-how to control these pollutants today,” she added.
The report notes that during April, at the beginning portion of the field campaign in Northern Alaska, aircraft-based researchers were surprised to find 50 smoke plumes originating from fires in Eurasia more than 3,000 miles away.
Analysis of the plumes, combined with satellite images, revealed the smoke came from agricultural fires in Northern Kazakhstan-Southern Russia and from forest fires in Southern Siberia.
The emissions from fires far outweighed those from fossil fuels, the report states.
“These fires weren’t part of our standard predictions, they weren’t in our models,” said Daniel Jacob, a professor of atmospheric chemistry and environmental engineering at Harvard University. (ANI)
- Agricultural burning, forest fires impact Arctic melting - May 27, 2009
- Soot emissions key factor in global warming, says expert - Jul 29, 2010
- Increased shipping likely to accelerate climate change as Arctic warms - Oct 26, 2010
- Cutting soot emissions best hope for saving Arctic ice - Jul 30, 2010
- Black carbon 'contributes' to global warming - Jul 30, 2010
- Global dimming threatening Beijing, Delhi the most, warn scientists - Nov 11, 2010
- Experts study black carbon, tropospheric ozone's role in climate change - Feb 21, 2011
- Stripping air of CO2 may become unavoidable - Jul 25, 2012
- Two thirds of permafrost likely to melt by 2200 - Feb 17, 2011
- Economic impact of Arctic melt could amount to 2.4 trillion dollars by 2050 - Feb 08, 2010
- Half of inhaled diesel soot sticks to lungs - Jun 29, 2012
- Arctic sea ice shrinks to smallest ever - Aug 28, 2012
- Soot on Tibetan snow 'causes more rainfall over India and China' - Mar 04, 2011
- Saline aquifers can store century's worth of CO2 emissions - Mar 22, 2012
- Soot from India triggers retreat of Himalayan glaciers - Feb 04, 2010
Tags: adverse impact, black carbon, carbon dioxide, clean air task force, combustion of biomass, crop residues, fossil fuels, health risk, incomplete combustion, international field campaign, last spring, latitudes, pollutants, risk reductions, snow and ice, soot, spring and summer, springtime, surprise discovery, temperature response