Emissions from forest fires, biomass burning worse than thought: new study.

July 5, 2012 |

In New York, emissions from forest fires and other biomass burning has a greater impact on global warming than previously understood, according to a new study. Carbonaceous aerosol emissions from forest fires and other biomass burning have long been known to include both dark particles that absorb heat, known as black carbon, as well as lighter colored particles known as organic matter or organic carbon that reflect heat back into space and cancelled the warming. The new study now shows that even some of the lighter organic particles, those known as brown carbon, absorb heat that is more than the total cooling effect of the lighter particles. The absorption of these brown carbon particles essentially negates the overall cooling effect of the lighter organic material. The study is based on empirical data from a ground-based aerosol network integrated with field data and satellite observations.

The scientists note that Cutting black carbon in addition to other short-lived climate pollutants such as methane, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons can reduce the current rate of global warming by almost half and the rate of warming in the Arctic by two-thirds for the next 30 or more years. Black carbon is targeted by the new Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, along with HFC, and methane.

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Category: Policy

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