08 Feb 2010:
Black Soot is Main Cause
Of Himalayan Glacier Melt, Study Says
Aerosols and black carbon from air pollution may be responsible for as much as 90 percent of the melting taking place in Himalayan glaciers
, according to a new study. The study, conducted by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said that soot and pollution not only soak up heat and warm the atmosphere, but the deposition of black carbon on snow and ice absorbs sunlight, further hastening glacial melt. The study, published online in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics
, said that warming from greenhouse gas emissions may only be responsible for about 10 percent of the rapid melting of many Himalayan glaciers. The researchers used pollution reports from the Indian government and other data to estimate what percentage of Himalayan glacial melt was caused from pollutants, as opposed to greenhouse gases. Lead researcher Surabi Menon said the results of the study show that if the governments of India, China, and other nations in the region work hard to cut pollution from cars, factories, and dirty home stoves the rate of melting of Himalayan glaciers could be significantly slowed. Reducing black carbon emissions also would cut down on extreme weather events in eastern India and Bangladesh, as the increased warming of the atmosphere causes more storms, the study says.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s unspoiled coral reefs. View the gallery.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.