Nav: Home

Study traces black carbon sources in the Russian Arctic

February 03, 2017

According to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 35% of black carbon in the Russian Arctic originates from residential heating sources, 38% comes from transport, while open fires, power plants, and gas flaring are responsible for only 12%, 9%, and 6% respectively. These estimates confirm previous work for some areas of the European Arctic, but for Siberia, the findings differ from previous research, which had suggested that contribution from gas flaring were much higher.

Black carbon, or soot, increases snow and ice melt by dulling the reflective surface and increasing the absorption of sunlight. Researchers say this is one reason that Arctic regions have warmed faster than any other area on the planet, with average temperatures there today over 4°C higher than the 1968-1996 average, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). Black carbon may also be contributing to the steep decline in summer Arctic sea ice coverage in recent decades.

"Reducing black carbon pollution holds some potential for climate change mitigation, especially in the Arctic, but in order to take effective action, we have to know where it is coming from. This study provides better data, but also shows that we need more information about source structure and spatial distribution of pollution in the Arctic," explains IIASA researcher Zbigniew Klimont, who worked on the study.

The location of black carbon emissions matters, explains Klimont, because black carbon emitted from the sources closer to the Arctic leads to greater warming (per unit of emitted black carbon) compared to sources further from the region. "High-latitude sources are especially important. Even though China, for example, releases much more black carbon than Arctic regions, reductions there have less impact per kilogram than reductions in the Arctic."

This research drew on IIASA research that was part of a European-Union funded project, Evaluating the Climate and Air Quality Impacts of Short-lived Pollutants (ECLIPSE). Researchers used the ECLIPSE emissions and an atmospheric transport model and compared the predictions with measurements and carbon isotope analysis of samples at Arctic research stations. While the study found good agreement between model estimates of black carbon concentrations and measurements for the European Arctic site, they found a mismatch between the modeled and measured results for the Russian Arctic site. The researchers developed a better method to attribute pollution to its sources by incorporating new data from Tiksi, a research station in the far eastern region of Siberia into the model. This improved attribution highlights the more important role of residential heating and transport sources while lesser relevance of gas flaring at this far-East Siberian site.

"There is widespread gas flaring in the Russian Arctic. Yet, the magnitude of gas flaring related black carbon and other combustion related emissions and the specific carbon-isotopic fingerprint are not very well understood. In order to better assess the role of black carbon pollution in the Arctic and to target its sources for mitigation, we need to measure the isotopic fingerprint of the gas flaring sources," says Patrik Winiger, a researcher at Stockholm University in Sweden who led the study.
-end-
Reference

Winiger P, Andersson A, Stohl A, Semiletov IP, Dudarev OV, Charkin A, Shakhova N, Klimont Z, Heyes C, Gustafsson O (2017). Siberian Arctic black carbon sources constrained by model and observation PNAS. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1613401114

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

Related Pollution Articles:

Diesel pollution linked to heart damage
Diesel pollution is linked with heart damage, according to research presented today at EuroCMR 2017.
Air pollution may disrupt sleep
High levels of air pollution over time may get in the way of a good night's sleep, according to new research presented at the ATS 2017 International Conference.
Smoking out sources of in-home air pollution
An ambitious study led by San Diego State University researchers has investigated various factors that contribute to air pollution inside the house.
Where is heavy air pollution in Beijing from?
The heavy haze formation in Beijing is depicted as 'initiated by the regional transport mainly from the coal burning in surrounding areas, and intensified by the local secondary formation originated from the motor vehicles.'
Future PM2.5 air pollution over China
There is a long way to go to mitigate future PM2.5 pollution in China based on the emission scenarios.
What happens when people are treated like pollution?
In cities where homeless persons are viewed as an 'environmental contaminant' -- a form of pollution, efforts to purge the homeless from the area tend to push them to the fringes of the community and diminish their access to the urban environment and the resources it provides, according to an article published in Environmental Justice.
Reducing ammonia pollution from cattle
Agriculture is responsible for 90% of all ammonia pollution in Europe, a considerable part of which comes from cattle manure management: a new study shows what steps to take to reduce this pollution.
Getting maximum profit, minimal pollution
In a new study, researchers at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service have calculated how much chicken litter farmers need to apply to cotton crops to maximize profits.
Containing our 'electromagnetic pollution'
Electromagnetic radiation is everywhere -- that's been the case since the beginning of the universe.
Diabetes: Risk factor air pollution
Exposure to air pollution at the place of residence increases the risk of developing insulin resistance as a pre-diabetic state of type 2 diabetes.

Related Pollution Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#532 A Class Conversation
This week we take a look at the sociology of class. What factors create and impact class? How do we try and study it? How does class play out differently in different countries like the US and the UK? How does it impact the political system? We talk with Daniel Laurison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College and coauthor of the book "The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged", about class and its impacts on people and our systems.