Global warming might be the last thing on your mind while snuggled up inside during a raging snowstorm. But, scientists say what happens to that snow over the next few days, as its plowed and turns filthy along our roadsides, contributes to climate change.
A new study found that emissions of soot, or black carbon, alters the way sunlight reflects off snow and may be responsible for as much as 25 percent of observed global warming over the past century.
The Dirty on Soot
Soot is generated from traffic, industrial pollution, outdoor fires and household burning of coal and other fuels and is the product of incomplete combustion. Emissions are large in areas where cooking and heating are done with wood, field residue, cow dung, and coal at a low temperature that does not allow for total combustion. The soot particles absorb sunlight very effectively, just as wearing a black shirt outdoors absorbs more solar energy and keeps you warmer than a white shirt.
Research Yields Startling Findings
Although the role of soot in altering global climate is substantial, Hansen says it does not change the fact that greenhouse gases will likely continue to be the primary cause of climate warming during this century.
Model Simulations Confirm Warming
This research was funded by NASA's Earth Science Enterprise. The Enterprise is dedicated to understanding the Earth as an integrated system and applying Earth system science to improve prediction of climate, weather and natural hazards using the unique vantage point of space.
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Climate Has History Of Fast Changes
Boulder (UPI) Mar 09, 2004
Those who think global climate change requires many years to unfold might want to take note of other worldwide temperature alterations in the past 15,000 years, which occurred, in geological terms, quick as a flash.
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