Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Soot emissions - Important factor in global warming

Soot emission (black carbon emission) refers to dust-like carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of a hydrocarbon and is one of the most important factors adding to a global warming and climate change.

American chemist Mark Z. Jacobson, Ph.D. believes that reducing soot emissions could significantly slow down melting of Arctic's sea ice.

He, in fact, believes that controlling soot and reducing soot emissions would reduce warming above parts of the Arctic Circle by almost 3 degrees Fahrenheit within the next 15 years. This scenario would be enough for Arctic to experience the temperatures of 100 years ago and erase all the warming that has happened since that time.

This is the quickest fix to Arctic's melting issue that could have an almost immediate effect. Soot emissions are the second most contributing factor to climate change behind carbon dioxide. Up to recently soot has been largely overlooked in climate models though soot emissions contribute to around 17 percent of global warming.

The major sources of soot emissions include exhaust from different diesel vehicles, agricultural machines, and also the wood/animal dung fires that hundreds of millions of people in developing countries use for cooking and heating.

Soot particles once released into atmosphere become suspended and absorb sunlight and then radiate that heat back into the air around it. Not only that, soot can also add to warming by absorbing the light reflected from Earth's surface.

Jacobson believes that implementing technologies for controlling soot emissions is lot easier compared to technologies that aim to reduce carbon emissions because the costs are much lower. For instance, diesel particulate filters, can remove soot from car and truck exhaust.

Not only that, soot doesn't stay for a very long time in atmosphere like carbon dioxide does. Soot disappears within a few weeks while carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for years.

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