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Friday, December 25, 2009

Increasing soot concentration in atmosphere is causing monsoon failure and glacier retreats

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Recent studies reveal that soot particles released into atmosphere through burning of biomass like crop residues, cattle dung and firewood, and fossil fuels like coal and diesel are greater contributors to global warming, melting glaciers and climate change than green house gases.
Researchers say that soot particles absorb up to 80% of solar radiation that encounters them and plays significant role in heating the atmosphere directly. 60% of current global warming produced by carbon dioxide is due to soot particles as per Nature Geoscience (2008).

Soot particles deposited on glaciers accelerate the process of their retreat
courtesy : The Hindu/ science and technology/December 24, 2009

Impact on cloud and rainfall

According to a study of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California- soot particles absorb solar radiation and heat the surrounding atmosphere. It causes burning of clouds. According to another research by Prof. Ramanathan and others (2005), the monsoon rainfall over India is being reduced gradually due to increasing levels of soot and similar pollutants emitted from burning of coal, firewood, cattle dung, coal etc. especially in northern India in houses and roadside motels release major amounts of soot particles in atmosphere that causes melting of ice in Himalyan region. Thus droughts and floods may double in frequency if emissions go on increasing at the current rate. NASA reports that soot from northern India, dust from the desert of western China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Middle East are producing heat over Tibet to accelerate melting of glaciers.

Impact on glaciers

In a meeting of the American Geophysical Union held in California in early December 2009, Dr. Lau reported that rate of warming was more than five times faster over areas of Himalyas than warming globally. Besides these, soot is being deposited on glaciers directly from the atmosphere also is helping in melting of glaciers up to major extent.

Emission control

According to a joint research of scientists from America and China the black soot aerosols deposited on Tibet glaciers have been a significant contributing factor to observe rapid glacier retreat. The report has been confirmed by James Hansen in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, USA. Reduction of emission of soot particles at source and checking burning of crop residues, cattle dung, firewood etc. can lower the concentration of soot particles in atmosphere very quickly as soot particles can remain in atmosphere for a few days only. If emission of soot is checked at the point of its production, it may help in reducing global warming up to considerable extent.The practice of burning of crop residues in fields, burning of cattle dung, and burning of coal should be stopped as an important step to solve the problem. Introduction of technology to check black carbon emission from diesel consuming means of transport can also help a lot in this direction.

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