Biomass Burning Really Heats Things Up: New Study Shows Significance of Fire’s Brown Carbon for Global Warming
(Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development / Environmental News Network) Emissions from forest fires and other biomass burning has a greater impact on global warming than previously understood, according to a new study.
“We used to think the lighter particles in the smoke from forest fires and crop burning had a cooling effect that might offset the warming effect of the darker black carbon particles in the smoke,” said Dr. Ramanathan of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and one of the authors of the study. “But because we’ve found brown carbon particles mixed in with the lighter organic matter, we now know that the net effect of the lighter particles is about zero, meaning there is no significant cooling to offset the warming from black carbon particles from fires.”
…The new study, lead by Dr. Chul E. Chung from the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, also reported that warming from global black carbon could be as much as 85% larger than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calculated in 2007. A recent study by U.S. EPA ranked black carbon as the number two climate pollutant behind carbon dioxide but ahead of methane.
Cutting black carbon in addition to other short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) such as methane, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) 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 while avoiding up to 4.7 million premature deaths each year from outdoor air pollution and up to 1.6 million a year from indoor pollution. READ MORE and MORE (Environmental and Energy Study Institute) Abstract