21 Sep 2011:
Burning Oil from BP Spill
Emitted Millions of Pounds of Black Carbon
The deliberate burning of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster released 1.4 million to 4.6 million pounds of black carbon into the atmosphere
during a nine-week
Smoke billows from controlled burn
period, according to a new study by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That amount significantly exceeds the quantity of soot emitted from ships in the Gulf Of Mexico during a typical nine-week period. The study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters
, found that the average size of the black carbon particles was much large than those emitted by other sources in the Gulf. Black carbon, which is the most light-absorbing particle in the atmosphere, contributes to global warming and is known to pose a health threat to humans. Another new study, conducted by researchers at Auburn University, showed that toxic tar balls found on Alabama beaches this month after being churned to the surface by Tropical Storm Lee had an “essentially identical” chemical composition
as oil mat samples collected after the Deepwater Horizon spill, indicating that large amounts of coagulated oil are still present on the sea floor.
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Photographer Peter Essick documents the swift changes wrought by global warming in Antarctica, Greenland, and other far-flung places. View the gallery.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video that chronicles the story of a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant, was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
In a Yale Environment 360
video, photographer Pete McBride documents how increasing water demands have transformed the Colorado River, the lifeblood of the arid Southwest. Watch the video.