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.
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