Soot easier to control than CO2 – may help Arctic ice

From the American Chemical Society something I’ve always wondered about, that soot plays a major role in the Arctic. Controlling soot though, has to start outside of the United States, because soot emissions are already highly regulated by the EPA.

A satellite image shows pollution over eastern China in February 2004. The pollution, consisting mostly of soot and sulfate particles, was created from coal and wood burning and persisted throughout the winter.

Cutting soot emissions: Fastest, most economical way to slow global warming

DENVER, Aug. 31, 2011 — A new study of dust-like particles of soot in the air — now emerging as the second most important — but previously overlooked — factor in global warming provides fresh evidence that reducing soot emissions from diesel engines and other sources could slow melting of sea ice in the Arctic faster and more economically than any other quick fix, a scientist reported here today.

In a presentation at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), Mark Z. Jacobson, Ph.D., cited concerns that continued melting of sea ice above the Arctic Circle will be a tipping point for the Earth’s climate, a point of no return. That’s because the ice, which reflects sunlight and heat back into space, would give way to darker water that absorbs heat and exacerbates warming. And there is no known way to make the sea refreeze in the short term.

Jacobson’s calculations indicate that controlling soot could reduce warming above parts of the Arctic Circle by almost 3 degrees Fahrenheit within 15 years. That would virtually erase all of the warming that has occurred in the Arctic during the last 100 years.

“No other measure could have such an immediate effect,” said Jacobson, who is with Stanford University. “Soot emissions are second only to carbon dioxide (CO2) in promoting global warming, but its effects have been underestimated in previous climate models. Consequently, soot’s effect on climate change has not been adequately addressed in national and international global warming legislation. Soot emissions account for about 17 percent of global warming, more than greenhouse gases like methane. Soot’s contribution, however, could be reduced by 90 percent in 5-10 years with aggressive national and international policies.”

Soot or “black carbon” consists of particles, nearly invisible on an individual basis, released in smoke from combustion of fossil fuels and biofuels. Major sources include exhaust from diesel cars, buses, trucks, ships, aircraft, agricultural machines, construction equipment and the wood/animal dung fires that hundreds of millions of people in developing countries use for used for cooking and heating. Black carbon particles become suspended in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight, just like a black t-shirt on a sunny day. The particles then radiate that heat back into the air around it. Black carbon also can absorb light reflected from Earth’s surface, which helps make it such a potent warming agent.

The good news is that decreasing soot could have a rapid effect, Jacobson said. Unlike carbon dioxide, which remains in the atmosphere for years, soot disappears within a few weeks, so that there is no long-term reservoir with a continuing warming effect. And the technology for controlling black carbon, unlike that for controlling CO2, already is available at relatively modest cost. Diesel particulate filters, for instance, can remove soot from car and truck exhaust. Government and other agencies also are trying to introduce low-soot cookstoves in developing countries. “Converting gasoline- and diesel-burning cars and trucks to electric or hydrogen vehicles and reducing emissions from diesel generators could have an immediate effect on warming,” according to Jacobson.

Jacobson, who developed the first detailed climate model to include the global effects of soot, reported on use of the model to gain new insights into the effects of soot particles trapped inside and between the water droplets that make up clouds. Previous research on black carbon and climate overlooked that topic. Jacobson said the information is important because black carbon within clouds makes the clouds “burn off” and disappear over heavily polluted urban and other areas. Climate models that ignore this “cloud absorption” phenomenon underestimate the effects of black carbon on climate.

###

 

The American Chemical Society is a non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society contact newsroom@acs.org.

ABSTRACT:

Air pollution mortality and global warming are two significant problems today. Over 2.5 million people die prematurely each year worldwide from air pollution. Nine out of the 10 warmest years on record since 1850 were during 2000-2010. The Arctic sea ice extent has dropped 10% (1 million square kilometers) since 1979. Sea levels have risen 1.8 mm/year for the past century but 2.8 mm/year in the most recent decade. In this talk, I provide new results examining the relative contributors to global warming and air pollution health problems. Fossil-fuel and solid biofuel soot particles are found to be the second-leading cause of global warming after carbon dioxide. Whereas fossil-fuel soot is a stronger warmer than biofuel soot, biofuel soot enhances mortality about 8 times more on a global scale, since it is emitted mostly in highly-populated developing countries. Part of the strong climate effect of black carbon is due to its absorption within cloud drops. BC inclusions within cloud drops result in a greater heating rate than the same BC interstitially between cloud drops, and interstitial BC causes more heating than BC in the clear sky. As such, ignoring BC inclusions within cloud drops or between cloud drops results in underestimates of the climate effects of BC. Controlling fossil-fuel and biofuel soot appears to be the fastest method of reducing Arctic ice loss and global warming than any other control option, including control of CH4 or CO2, although all controls are needed.

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70 thoughts on “Soot easier to control than CO2 – may help Arctic ice

  1. This soot-warming effect will be important when people realize that the real danger is cooling, not warming, and we need to start doing some serious soot-dusting of the great white north if we want to put off the threat of another Little Ice Age or worse. How about dotting northern Asia and America with hundreds of new coal plants that are designed for two modes of operation, old fashioned sooty-dirty for the winter, and new-fangled dirty (CO2 producing, but not soot producing) for the summer?

  2. In North America we mainly use gasoline. It is very clean on the soot. Most of the rest of the world is on diesel. It’s true they are more efficient but they do emit a lot of soot.

  3. “Jacobson’s calculations indicate that controlling soot could reduce warming above parts of the Arctic Circle by almost 3 degrees Fahrenheit within 15 years. That would virtually erase all of the warming that has occurred in the Arctic during the last 100 years”.

    If that’s true, it leaves no room whatsoever for CO₂ induced warming in a region where it should have been the largest, as specific humidity is low there, so the most potent greenhouse gas, H₂O can’t possibly mask its effect. In other words Jacobson implies climate sensitivity to CO₂ is negligible.

    That is, it’s certainly worse than we thought, therefore all his grants should be withdrawn as soon as practicable.

  4. The Chinese want to breathe poisonous air about as much as anyone else, I’d imagine. CO2, no problem, of course.

  5. concerns that continued melting of sea ice above the Arctic Circle will be a tipping point for the Earth’s climate, a point of no return. That’s because the ice, which reflects sunlight and heat back into space, would give way to darker water that absorbs heat and exacerbates warming. And there is no known way to make the sea refreeze in the short term.

    I stopped reading there.

  6. “cited concerns that continued melting of sea ice above the Arctic Circle will be a tipping point for the Earth’s climate, a point of no return. That’s because the ice, which reflects sunlight and heat back into space, would give way to darker water that absorbs heat and exacerbates warming. And there is no known way to make the sea refreeze in the short term.”

    Rubbish. Less ice, more loss of heat to space from open water – refreezing in short order.

  7. Not convinced at all. There is zero correlation between soot and Arctic temperatures, or ice extent. This is just desperate attempt to find another anthropogenic cause of everything.

    This study 1) undermines the IPCC theory of mid-20th century cooling – had the soot/sulphate aerosols caused cooling then, China should have been much colder now than the rest of the world, which is obviously not happening, 2) if soot warms Arctic, then CO2 has no visible effect in the most sensitive areas (polar caps). The real elephant in the room is Atlantic oscillation, where North Atlantic cools and warms in 30-year cycle and masses of Gulf stream entering the Arctic dictate conditions up there.

  8. Wasn’t it emissions from chinese coal plants, including soot (pm10, etc), which were recently credited with reducing the ‘warming’ effect of CO2 by increasing cloud formation and reflection of solar energy?

    Having said that carbon particles (soot) settling on snow and glaciers and causing surface melt has been shown to be happening and talked about for several years, although largely ignored by the CO2 theorists.

  9. tallbloke says:
    Rubbish. Less ice, more loss of heat to space from open water – refreezing in short order.
    In addition to that: The yearly minimum is in September, when the sun is already very low in the Arctic. Today the sun will have a max altitude of 20 degrees at Longyearbyen, Svalbard (compared to 35 degrees around summer solstice). At such low angles, the reflectivity of water is quite high – however, waves will lower it, so I guess the actual albedo of the open sea cannot really be estimated without measuring it.

  10. BC inclusions within cloud drops result in a greater heating rate than the same BC interstitially between cloud drops, and interstitial BC causes more heating than BC in the clear sky.

    Really ? how do they know this ?

  11. If controlling soot without controlling CO2 can reduce global heat, then CO2 is not the problem, but soot. Simple logics.
    And again, this rubbish of “Tipping Point”… somebody should teach these folks some history: The North pole was ice free for few thousands years and the Point did not Tip.
    Why not just claim the obvious: Ice loss in arctic is caused by soot.

  12. Aren’t soot particles a perfectly good substitute for cosmic ray generated ions, as nucleation sites for water droplet (aka clouds) formation. And that China pollution photo shows that the soot particles are in the atmosphere, and not on the ground; so who cares how fast they are precipitated out as rain; the photo shows they a still plentiful in the atmosphere.

  13. Follows along the same lines as a 2009 paper from Lau: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/12/15/soot_bigger_than_co2/

    Soot warming ‘maybe bigger than greenhouse gases’ – NASA
    Forget Copenhagen CO2 cuts, tune your diesel properly
    By Lewis Page • 15th December 2009 12:16 GMT

    Researchers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, also the home of famous carbopocalypse doom-prophet James Hansen, have repeated earlier assertions that atmospheric soot may be as important as greenhouse gases in driving global warming.

    …Earlier investigations including the effect of soot had focused on the Arctic, where Goddard scientists have previously suggested that “the impact of aerosols is just as strong as that of the greenhouse gases”. …

    …Forget about burping cows, airliners and green IT – just tune up your diesel engine and chip in towards modern stoves for everyone

    But according to NASA this week:

    The new research, by NASA’s William Lau and collaborators, reinforces with detailed numerical analysis what earlier studies suggest: that soot and dust contribute as much (or more) to atmospheric warming in the Himalayas as greenhouse gases.

    …Even Lau’s Goddard colleague Dr James Hansen, who has spent the last several decades relentlessly bigging-up the greenhouse gas threat and pushing for emissions cuts, now admits that soot is a major issue – though he can’t bear to suggest it might actually be bigger than greenhouse gases.

    “Black soot is probably responsible for as much as half of the glacial melt,” he says.

    (continued)

    And I guess Jacobson did a paper back in 2010 also: http://www.igsd.org/documents/PR_JacobsonBCstudy_29July2010_000.pdf

    Where it was said that 50% or more of Arctic sea ice loss was from black soot…

    Then as far back as 2003 even James Hansen had a black carbon paper stating that it was twice as effective as CO2… http://www.pnas.org/content/101/2/423.full

    Soot climate forcing via snow and ice albedos
    1. James Hansen * , † , ‡ and 2. Larissa Nazarenko * , †
    + Author Affiliations
    1.*National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Institute for Space Studies and †Columbia University Earth Institute, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025
    1. Contributed by James Hansen, November 4, 2003

    Abstract

    Plausible estimates for the effect of soot on snow and ice albedos (1.5% in the Arctic and 3% in Northern Hemisphere land areas) yield a climate forcing of +0.3 W/m2 in the Northern Hemisphere. The “efficacy” of this forcing is ∼2, i.e., for a given forcing it is twice as effective as CO2 in altering global surface air temperature. This indirect soot forcing may have contributed to global warming of the past century, including the trend toward early springs in the Northern Hemisphere, thinning Arctic sea ice, and melting land ice and permafrost. If, as we suggest, melting ice and sea level rise define the level of dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, then reducing soot emissions, thus restoring snow albedos to pristine high values, would have the double benefit of reducing global warming and raising the global temperature level at which dangerous anthropogenic interference occurs. However, soot contributions to climate change do not alter the conclusion that anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been the main cause of recent global warming and will be the predominant climate forcing in the future.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (1) estimates the global climate forcing by fossil fuel black carbon (BC) aerosols as 0.2 W/m2. Jacobson (2) suggests that the fossil fuel BC forcing is larger, ∼0.5 W/m2. J.H. and colleagues (3–5) have argued that the total anthropogenic BC forcing, including BC from fossil fuels, biofuels, and outdoor biomass burning, and also including the indirect effects of BC on snow/ice albedo, is still larger, 0.8 ± 0.4 W/m2. Here we estimate the magnitude of one component of the BC climate forcing: its effect on snow/ice albedo.

    Several factors complicate evaluation of the BC snow/albedo climate forcing and dictate the approach we use to estimate the forcing. (continued)

    and one on the Himalayans from 1990-2000 http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/9/26593/2009/acpd-9-26593-2009.html

    Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 9, 26593-26625, 2009
    Black carbon aerosols and the third polar ice cap
    S. Menon1, D. Koch2, G. Beig3, S. Sahu3, J. Fasullo4, and D. Orlikowski5

    another: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abs/ko06100c.html

    Koch, D., and J. Hansen, 2005: Distant origins of Arctic black carbon: A Goddard Institute for Space Studies ModelE experiment. J. Geophys. Res., 110, D04204, doi:10.1029/2004JD005296.

    Black carbon (BC) particles, derived from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass, may have a severe impact on the sensitive Arctic climate, possibly altering the temperature profile, cloud temperature and amount, the seasonal cycle, and the tropopause level and accelerating polar ice melting. We use the Goddard Institute for Space Studies general circulation model to investigate the origins of Arctic BC by isolating various source regions and types. The model suggests that the predominant sources of Arctic soot today are from south Asia (industrial and biofuel emissions) and from biomass burning. These are the primary global sources of BC (approximately 20% and 55%, respectively, of the global emissions), and BC aerosols in these regions are readily lofted to high altitudes where they may be transported poleward. According to the model the Arctic BC optical thickness is mostly from south Asia (30%) and from biomass (28%) (with slightly more than half of biomass coming from north of 40°N); North America, Russia, and Europe each contribute 10-15%. Russia, Europe, and south Asia each contribute about 20-25% of BC to the low-altitude springtime “Arctic haze.” In the Arctic upper troposphere/lower stratosphere during the springtime, south Asia (30-50%) and low-latitude biomass (20-30%) are dominant, with a significant aircraft contribution (10-20%). Industrial S emissions are estimated to be weighted relatively more toward Russia and less toward south Asia (compared with BC). As a result, Russia contributes the most to Arctic sulfate optical thickness (24%); however, the south Asian contribution is also substantial (17%). Uncertainties derive from source estimates, model vertical mixing, and aerosol removal processes. Nevertheless, our results suggest that distant sources contribute more to Arctic pollution than is generally assumed.

    and yet another NASA researcher in 2009 (this one even has a graph showing just where the clean air regs were started):

    NASA: Clean-air regs, not CO2, are melting the ice cap
    Acid-rain countermeasures could drown London
    By Lewis Page • 9th April 2009 12:10 GMT

    New research from NASA suggests that the Arctic warming trend seen in recent decades has indeed resulted from human activities: but not, as is widely assumed at present, those leading to carbon dioxide emissions. Rather, Arctic warming has been caused in large part by laws introduced to improve air quality and fight acid rain.

    Dr Drew Shindell of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies has led a new study which indicates that much of the general upward trend in temperatures since the 1970s – particularly in the Arctic – may have resulted from changes in levels of solid “aerosol” particles in the atmosphere, rather than elevated CO2. Arctic temperatures are of particular concern to those worried about the effects of global warming, as a melting of the ice cap could lead to disastrous rises in sea level – of a sort which might burst the Thames Barrier and flood London, for instance.(continued)

    I’d bet there are others too, these are just the ones I hapened to have bookmarked.

  14. Wot rubbish!

    The Laws of Thermodynamics work as well with dust as they do with every other radiative substance; including water vapour, which is still the elephant squared (and maybe cubed) in this planet’s atmosphere; and given a “greenhouse” only works when there’s a heat trapping membrane as first noted by Prof Woods back in 1910, this li’l grant pitch should reasonably be consigned to reside with those of Mister Hockey Shtick hisself.

    But, then again post the recent CERN advice re cosmic rays and cloud nucleation, there might yet be an earn for a bright lad in lining up fine carbon particulates up as a much to be feared accelerator of Global Cooling.

    I reckon the Gorecal might be a suitable patron and certainly worth a call for a few tips

  15. “”””” Espen says:

    September 1, 2011 at 12:48 am

    ……………………………At such low angles, the reflectivity of water is quite high – however, waves will lower it, so I guess the actual albedo of the open sea cannot really be estimated without measuring it. “””””

    Not necessarily. It is traditional for waves; particularly in the open ocean, to have an upside and a downside. If the sun hits an upslope, decreasing the angle of incidence, and hence the oblique reflectance, next to it is a downslope with an even greater angle of incidence, and grazing angle reflectance. The upslope side does however block a bigger solid angle than the downslope, so it intercepts a bit more flux.

  16. As already noted there are some contradcitions with earlier claims about cooling & warming inducers. Poor old China, she can’t win either way it’s her fault! I can’t help thinking that this is all so much pulp, as what we have pumped out since 1750 must be a mere drop in the ocean (excuse the pun) in comparison to our geological volcanic history? Surely a few Krakatoas would make us look rather stingy?

    Could somebody please explain to me what is the difference between “black” soot, & any other kind, because I only seem to be getting the black kind from my woodburner? Sure would like to have some translucent stuff if I could get it!

  17. Ways to reduce soot are well known and not terribly expensive although no one would say they cost nothing at all. Other nations can adopt them with little turmoil.
    In contrast, a substantial reduction of CO2 emissions is harder and seems to require a rejection of fossil fuels and a massive change of the entire world economy. Even then it is not clear what, if anything, reducing atmospheric CO2 would do.
    Stated another way. If CO2 isn’t a huge problem then a lot of people lose prestige, income, and power.

  18. Re albedo of ruffled water. Wind-ruffled water has a higher albedo than smoothed — one of the reasons that an oil spill which leaves a large area of smoothed water will have a warming effect. Also, ruffled water has higher emissivity and cools faster when not being irradiated — reduced cooling = warming.

    Oh, look, NASA seawifs has estimated the amount of oil which coats the world’s oceans — I calculate enough to cover the entire water surface every two weeks. I wonder what that’s doing to global warming.

    JF

  19. Stephen Skinner says:
    September 1, 2011 at 12:06 am

    I think the main image is upside down?

    What? You want to look at the underside of the picture? Not sure what that means, unless it’s printed, in which case the underside is probably plain white.

  20. Something that puzzled me, many moons ago when I kept an allotment in Southern England, was why other allotment keepers went crazy over the sporadic deliveries of soot. This stuff apparently came from the local council that owned the allotments. Supposedly it was a good soil conditioner – it ‘broke up’ clay.
    Several moons later, I found out about ‘Terra preta’ and also ‘biochar’ and suddenly everything made sense.
    I’m surprised the The American Chemical Society haven’t also heard about these things Maybe, just maybe, soot is not such a bad guy.

  21. Katherine says:
    September 1, 2011 at 12:06 am

    concerns that continued melting of sea ice above the Arctic Circle will be a tipping point for the Earth’s climate, a point of no return. That’s because the ice, which reflects sunlight and heat back into space, would give way to darker water that absorbs heat and exacerbates warming. And there is no known way to make the sea refreeze in the short term.

    I stopped reading there.

    I also stopped reading right there, mostly because of the fact that they said ‘there is no known way to make the sea refreeze in the short term’ – Hey geniuses – maybe try waiting for winter!

  22. We all know its the soot from chinese factories that is slowing global warming…SO, lets start writing about how soot is CREATING global warming. That way we’ll fool those pesky deniers AND get AGW going again! WA-HA-HA-HA-HA! [sarc]
    (Sorry, couldn’t help it.)

  23. Jacobson’s calculations indicate that controlling soot could reduce warming above parts of the Arctic Circle by almost 3 degrees Fahrenheit within 15 years. That would virtually erase all of the warming that has occurred in the Arctic during the last 100 years.
    Surely eliminating soot wouldn’t undo past warming, merely reduce the rate of future warming? Or does Dr. Jacobson really mean what the article said, that the Arctic temperature anomaly would decrease back to zero (or near that)?

  24. First of all, there is no

    Just take a look at NASA’s Earth Observatory and select forrest fires and dust storms and volcano’s. That will convince you that the anthropogenic soot is totally insignificant.

    Besides some pictures of “haze” over Asia there are no visible “soot events” observed from space.

    What you do find is an incredible number of massive natural dust, smoke and volcanic emission events.

    One striking picture shows a dust plumes emerging off the Alaska coast.

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=47082

    This is the dust found on the Alaska glaciers but as always, natural causes are ignored.

    Only human activity is interesting since it is humanity that is targeted here.
    Some people think over population is a threat to the planet.

    Only a doctrine that provides unlimited political control over humanity can do something about that, see: http:/green-agenda.com and UN Agenda 21

    In short, the current establishment simply wants a few billion of us to vanish from the planet.

    So at the UN all the talk is about “human rights” while at the same time they pull the plug on our economies.

    Now help me, what was the article about?

  25. My most recent environmental projects all centre on black carbon emissions, which the IPCC has until this year basically ignored.

    Black carbon soot kills people in the third world daily. Major sources of it are the brick kilns used throughout India, China and Pakistan etc. and the cooking stoves which are basically universal throughout the third world.

    Soot is a real health threat to many humans, it kills them, it genuinely pollutes, and it is turning up on ice worldwide, which must have some effect, quaere what effect that is pending more studies.

  26. Eyal Porat says: September 1, 2011 at 1:03 am

    “Why not just claim the obvious: Ice loss in arctic is caused by soot.”

    Because no one’s thought of a way to make money out of it yet?

    Likewise, if you wanted “solar power” in most northern latitudes you can do this simply by having big south facing windows, and small ones on the north. But no one can sell you a bigger window, but they can sell a solar panel which costs most in energy to produce than it will ever produce unless you spend half the time up a ladder cleaning them … yet another thing they don’t mention.

    The scaling up of CO2 in the climate models is a theory that is completely bogus. It has no evidence to support it, except that you have to scale up CO2 to match the temperature curve, and then when the evidence goes against it … it did not predict the cooling … what happens? We get called racist holocaust deniers for pointing out that this scaled up CO2 theory is totally rejected by the evidence.

    Capitalist markets work well in some areas, but in other’s like preying on the gullibility of people they work entirely against the good.

  27. Since we are not warming (have not since 1998 and cooling since 2006), would this not be a meaningless goal?

    Decreasing soot, of course, is good just to respect the environment and if it is not exorbitant in expense. If it was expensive to do, the prospect would have to be seriously considered: to do or not to do, particularly as there are no established effects shown by soot on the current cooling. China’s soot is in the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere has had the most cooling.

    Why are these people talking about fighting global warming when we are not warming? Are they stuck in one mode, being simple-minded, wedded to a single meme, or just stubborn and not well informed?

  28. Anyone who’s ever used a couple small lumps of coal as eyes for a snowman, and seen them fall out a few days later, knows this. Black carbon absorbs solar energy far more readily than the snow and ice around it, radiating back out and melting the surrounding white stuff.

    The westerlies that bring warmth to the Arctic and compact sea ice, will also bring soot from the continents. Could this be a factor in the location of the main areas of seasonal ice loss compared to climatalogical norms, i.e. north-east of China?

    The tipping point bit was a load of hokum though.

  29. xion III says:
    August 31, 2011 at 11:52 pm
    The Chinese want to breathe poisonous air about as much as anyone else, I’d imagine. CO2, no problem, of course.

    Like many other people throughout the world and throughout history, the Chinese have made a choice and decided to make a trade-off of some pollution in exchange for not living in abject poverty.

  30. George E. Smith says:
    September 1, 2011 at 1:09 am
    Aren’t soot particles a perfectly good substitute for cosmic ray generated ions, as nucleation sites for water droplet (aka clouds) formation. And that China pollution photo shows that the soot particles are in the atmosphere, and not on the ground; so who cares how fast they are precipitated out as rain; the photo shows they a still plentiful in the atmosphere.

    We’ve all seen studies indicating a reduction in soot and other particulate matter caused the late 20th century warming because cleaner air allows more sunlight to strike the earth and warm it. And studies which say the exact opposite. And studies which say soot is causing the northern snowpack/icepack to melt.

    Which is right? I recall when Bob Dole ran for president and they asked him if he wore boxers or briefs. The answer? “Depends.”

  31. This soot thing will go nowhere with the elitists since the soot in the world does not reflect upon how “evil,” and morally “corrupt” the United States is, which is their true objective.

  32. Wasn’t it the dramatic increase in artic ice during the early seventies that set off the coming ice age scare? I believe Time ran an article claiming a 20% increase. Where’s the evidence that this is so abnormal?

  33. If soot levels are causing the ice loss, why wasn’t it there from

    Soot ‘influences Arctic climate’

    Human activities have left a visible mark on the Arctic. Measurements from ice cores suggest that soot released by industrial activities has influenced climate change in the Arctic. The researchers looked at ice cores covering the period 1788 to 2002. The natural record shows that concentrations of black carbon, or soot, were particularly bad from 1851 to 1951, Science journal reports.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6939633.stm

    And would reducing the levels also lead to drought?

    The problem was how to heat the droplets differentially. Dr. van Straten solved it with carbon black, which is a fluffy kind of soot whose intensely black particles, about 500.00 in diameter, accumulate radiant heat just like a blacktop road. When these particles are released in a cloud, she reasoned, the water droplets that capture one or more of them should grow warmer by absorbing sunlight, and should lose their moisture by evaporation to droplets that have stayed comparatively cool because they have captured no particles. Then the cool, fattened-up droplets should fall slowly through the cloud, growing gradually bigger by jostling small droplets and combining with them. Eventually they should grow big enough to fall from the cloud.

    This system, worked out theoretically, worked like a charm in actual fact, the Navy announced last week. It was tested last July over the coast of Georgia. The usual tactic was to attach a package of 1-2 Ibs. of carbon black to a static line and toss it out of an airplane flying through the top of a cloud. When the slack snapped out of the line, the package broke open, releasing the carbon black. Seven clouds out of seven tested dissipated entirely in 2½ to 20 minutes.

    When carbon black is released in moist, cloudless air the effect is opposite but no less magical. Its black particles catch sunlight and heat the air between them. The heated air rises, expands and grows colder. Some of its moisture condenses, and a new, white cloud appears in the sky. This system will not form clouds in dry air, but when the air is moist enough, it works almost every time. The official Navy attitude is that the action of carbon black is “an interesting effect” that will have to be studied a great deal more before it can be rated as a promising rainmaking agent.

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,825527,00.html

  34. There are a lot of more pressing reasons for China to reduce soot emissions than worrying about melting polar ice. But their government has placed a higher value on rapid development over environment or public health. I don’t see that changing any time soon. But they might be willing to fix this if western governments would give them money to save the polar bears.

  35. “…That’s because the ice, which reflects sunlight and heat back into space, would give way to darker water that absorbs heat and exacerbates warming. And there is no known way to make the sea refreeze in the short term.”

    Uhhh…yes there is…it’s call polar nighttime. When the sun goes down during the polar winter, the temps fall & the water freezes. Happens every year. This really isn’t that hard ;-)

    Jeff

  36. 75% of the people in India and China still burn coal, charcoal, stover, and trash for cooking and heating. I am sure the Koch brothers would gladly sell air scrubbers. It is a specialty business they have for refineries and smokestacks in general.
    We are smoking meats this weekend. Yum. Mesquite is the best.

  37. George E. Smith says:
    September 1, 2011 at 1:19 am

    Not necessarily. It is traditional for waves; particularly in the open ocean, to have an upside and a downside. If the sun hits an upslope, decreasing the angle of incidence, and hence the oblique reflectance, next to it is a downslope with an even greater angle of incidence, and grazing angle reflectance. The upslope side does however block a bigger solid angle than the downslope, so it intercepts a bit more flux.
    ——–
    Yes. But I am also wondering if the rays that hit the downslope side also hit the upslope side of the next wave. Possibly at an even greater angle. Time to get the drawing instruments out and do some ray tracing diagrams.

  38. “This study 1) undermines the IPCC theory of mid-20th century cooling – had the soot/sulphate aerosols caused cooling”

    Agreed, the cooling then warming post WWII was according to mainstream caused by aerosols and CO2. When the Clean Air Act cleaned up the air, the cooling stopped and warming started.

    Thus, this study debunks the idea that cooling after WWII was a result of pollution.

  39. Soot is of course a real pollutant. There are good reasons to try to reduce it without it having a climate impact. The best way would probably be to phase out wood and dung burning cooking in places like India in favor of gas stoves. Economic development to the rescue!

  40. “Besides some pictures of “haze” over Asia there are no visible “soot events” observed from space.”

    The Haze was particularly bad in 1997 and killed one of the hereditary Malaysia kings. Largely a result of companies clearing land in Borneo to plant oil palm. At one point the haze covered most of SE Asia and was so thick you could no see more than a few hundred feet at best. It hurt the eyes and made breathing difficult. Anyone with respiratory illness was at risk.

    While burning to clear land is “illegal”, the temptation is too high, as the burned jungle is ready made fertilizer for whatever crops are planted in its place. A company gets hired to clear the land, they hire another company, on down the line until a couple of unemployed locals with oil lamps are payed a few $$ to walk through the jungle, spilling lit oil as they go. When investigated, everyone has the necessary paperwork to show they acted legally.

  41. “Nine out of the 10 warmest years on record since 1850 were during 2000-2010.” Since 1850 coincides roughly with the end of the Little Ice Age, this inane quote is like someone in the NH issuing a statement in June that reads “Nine out of the 10 warmest days on record this year occurred this month.”

  42. Jeff K says:
    September 1, 2011 at 6:18 am
    This soot thing will go nowhere with the elitists since the soot in the world does not reflect upon how “evil,” and morally “corrupt” the United States is, which is their true objective.

    Remember – soot is carbon! Carbon evil! Carbon bad!

    Unless it’s produced by a non-western nation such as India or China, of course. One answer is to restrict our production (and consumption) of everything to help compensate. And to feel better about ourselves.

    Seriously, though. They will ignore everything about this unless they can tie it into big oil.

  43. Grant says:
    September 1, 2011 at 6:25 am
    Wasn’t it the dramatic increase in artic ice during the early seventies that set off the coming ice age scare? I believe Time ran an article claiming a 20% increase. Where’s the evidence that this is so abnormal?

    Evidence ? We ain’t got no evidence . We don’t need no evidence ! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ evidence!

  44. I don’t know what it is about this subject [ black carbon], but the world of climate science and sceptics alike have ignored it for the last two years or more.

    I first heard about it through Drew Shindell’s research, later through the testimony of Shindell, Jacobsen and others to Congress, and since then have raised it on many blogs in Australia, the US, including this blog, the UK—in the online newspapers of various countries—on the blog of Australia’s AGW scientists after they released their ‘Critical Decade’ report, obsessing about the Arctic melt, sea level rise and the various ‘tipping points’, with their only mitigation solutions being carbon taxes and carbon trading—and I raised it two years ago on Real Climate—only to be told there was no soot impacting on the arctic regions.

    This was one of the early reports I read on it:

    [ ‘Washington, D.C., April 2, 2009 – An article published this week in Nature Geoscience shows that black carbon is responsible for 50%, or almost 1 ˚C of the total 1.9 ˚C increased Arctic warming from 1890 to 2007. The paper by Drew Shindell of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space (GISS) and Greg Faluvegi of Columbia University also notes that most of the Arctic warming – 1.48 ˚C of the 1.9 ˚C – occurred from 1976 to 2007. The study is the first to quantify the Arctic’s sensitivity to black carbon emissions from various latitudes, and concludes that the Arctic responds strongly to black carbon emissions from the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, where the emissions and the forcing are greatest.

    Black carbon is an aerosol produced from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass and is estimated to be the second or third largest contributor to climate change. Its emissions cause damage in two ways: while in the atmosphere, the dark particulates absorb sunlight and emit it as heat; when it falls back to earth it can darken snow and ice, reducing their reflectivity and accelerating melting.’]

    This is a report on Jacobsen’s work;

    http://www.igsd.org/documents/PR_JacobsonBCstudy_29July2010_000.pdf

    And it’s all there in the report of Shindell, Jacobsen et al lobbying Congress—can’t find that link.

    And elsewhere in Shindell’s words—

    [ ["We will have very little leverage over climate in the next couple of decades if we're just looking at carbon dioxide," Shindell said. "If we want to try to stop the Arctic summer sea ice from melting completely over the next few decades, we're much better off looking at aerosols and ozone." ]

    Why is it , I wonder, that those of us who are sceptical of the CO2 hysteria and the motives of those promoting it, want the black carbon impacts mitigated, and the Arctic warming stopped or slowed——but the true believers of CO2-induced GW do not—in fact don’t even want it mentioned? Are they afraid they’ll lose their relevance and power over us all?
    We who are sceptical of the CO2 hysteria , certainly believe human activity has had an effect on the weather patterns of areas where it has impacted—and maybe , in its entirety , on the world climate.

    Very few people deny that the destruction of massive tracts of the world’s forests and grasslands for agriculture, the replacement of rural land by concrete and steel over huge areas, the roads built and fuel burned in the transport of goods and people between the urban heat islands and between countries and continents—-all anthropogenic—alter weather patterns to some extent —– but they’re more a direct function of the enormous increase in world population than of CO2.
    What makes us truly sceptical is the fact that warmists want to use CO2 hysteria less for real mitigation, than to bring on new taxes—to build huge bureaucracies, nationally and especially globally, to redistribute wealth—to water down sovereignty—to mandate the shift of taxpayers’ funds and technology from the democracies to the pseudo-democracies and the various versions of authoritarian regimes and Communist dictatorships—and generally to give the dysfunctional UN unprecedented oversight of, and authority over, the most democratic countries on earth.
    And if this CO2 hysteria is not revealed for what it is—the panic it unleashes will infest all of the decent economies of the world with carpet-baggers in there for their cut, flogging dubious offsets, and , as is already happening in Europe, the Mafia in all its iterations along with the rest of the world’s criminals— all making carbon trading their own lucrative plaything.

  45. So the Forest Service should knock off this ‘controlled burn’ business and go back to total fire suppression?

  46. Brian D says:
    September 1, 2011 at 5:07 am

    My question is… Is the greatest melting of the Arctic ice from the top or underneath?

    Most sea ice melts from the bottom up. The thickness of the sea ice depends on how cold the atmosphere above the ice is. The colder the air, the thicker the ice. That means that if the air gets warmer but is still many degrees below freezing, the ice will melt from below until it reaches whatever thickness that air temperature will support.

    Most of the energy required to melt the sea ice comes from the ocean. The net flux is from the ocean to the ice to the atmosphere or radiation to space.

    Ice is an insulator. Less ice means less insulation. Ice also prevents evaporation. Evaporation can transfer a huge amount of heat to the atmosphere. I think it likely that the net result of an ice free arctic ocean is that much more heat is transferred from the ocean to the atmosphere than for an ice covered ocean (even if the albedo decreases).

    Here’s a link to an article that gives an idea of the complexity of the issue: http://www.eoearth.org/article/Sea_ice?topic=49523

  47. Katherine got farther into the article than I did. Anyone who finds a solution for a hypothesis before they’ve proved the hypothesis leaves me thinking we need better stewardship of our grant dollars.

  48. What is black soot? Words have meanings – just not always the meaning they should have.

    In the parts of the USA where water freezes on roads and careless drivers earn Darwin Awards the relief from blame comes with the understanding that the cause was black ice. This always makes me think of comedian Flip Wilson’s saying “the Devil made me do it.” In any case, the roads are mostly made of black material except when they are not, and the ice is clear – lines and markings can be seen through it. Nevertheless, “black ice” it is!

    “Black soot” is considered to be the product of incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon. As such it differs from the “soot” under your bed. That is, some folks use the term for fine debris that gets blown about, say from pulverized rock, leaves, corn flakes, and dandruff. These two meanings should be decipherable from the context.

  49. Alan the Brit says:
    September 1, 2011 at 2:12 am
    “Could somebody please explain to me what is the difference between “black” soot, & any other kind, because I only seem to be getting the black kind from my woodburner? Sure would like to have some translucent stuff if I could get it!”

    Reference the Universal Law of Dust which says: “dark dust only falls on light objects and light dust only falls on dark objects”.

  50. Soot again? About the only thing it might contribute to is melting of ice and snow. The only reason it should be controlled as much as possible is due to the adverse effects of breathing it, because it is in fact, a pollutant, unlike C02. All this hand-wringing over its “warming” effects is total nonsense, and a red herring. We don’t need an excuse to clean up soot/black carbon.

  51. John F. Hultquist says:
    September 1, 2011 at 8:27 am
    “In the parts of the USA where water freezes on roads and careless drivers earn Darwin Awards the relief from blame comes with the understanding that the cause was black ice. This always makes me think of comedian Flip Wilson’s saying “the Devil made me do it.” In any case, the roads are mostly made of black material except when they are not, and the ice is clear – lines and markings can be seen through it. Nevertheless, “black ice” it is!

    Since I was a youngin’ living in New England and skating on frozen ponds, ‘Black Ice’ refers to ice that has frozen so clear that when you look at it it appears to be black. Of course what you are seeing is the dark water in the pond below the ice. I guess the description is now used for any clear ice.

  52. steveta_uk says:
    September 1, 2011 at 2:40 am
    Stephen Skinner says:
    September 1, 2011 at 12:06 am

    “I think the main image is upside down?”

    “”What? You want to look at the underside of the picture? Not sure what that means, unless it’s printed, in which case the underside is probably plain white.””

    Anthony and Steveta. I think the main picture should be rotated vertically. Top to bottom, bottom to top. Currently the land is closest at the top of the picture and the clouds are casting their shadows up. It all looks odd.

  53. Arctic temperatures are of particular concern to those worried about the effects of global warming, as a melting of the ice cap could lead to disastrous rises in sea level – of a sort which might burst the Thames Barrier and flood London, for instance.(continued)

    Doesn’t the Arctic sea ice float? I don’t see how it would contribute to a rise in sea level if it all melted (the old “melting ice cube in a full glass of water” science class experiment.)

    Regarding carbon, I think that this clearly shows how the science of climate change is ANYTHING but settled!! Also, the geopolitics are vast…..if, as this article surmises, that much of the problem is from China, what the hell do we do about it anyway? Pay them not to pollute?

  54. A few years ago, Ramanathan launched a bunch of unmanned aerial vehicles – UAV’s – into China’s brown cloud (black carbon) to collect data and found that the brown cloud apparently, and unexpectedly, produced higher temperatures within the cloud. So we have the brown cloud producing higher temperatures, and then the soot settles on the Arctic and Himalayan ice and melts that ice and speeds up glacial and polar melting. Hunh.

    As for the health effects of the brown cloud/black carbon/soot, it’s awful – hundreds of thousands of Indians and Chinese are dying every year from soot-related respiratory diseases due to their cooking stoves which use dung, biofuel and coal in enclosed spaces. I think we in the West could offer humanitarian aid by supplying more effective and cheap cooking stoves using gas, solar, whatever. As for the Chinese, I read somewhere that their newest coal burning plants have installed particulate-capturing technology to reduce this problem. If they can also retrofit their existing coal plants with this technology, so much the better. But it’s ultimately their decision on the quality of life they want for their people. We can help, but we’re not the solution.

  55. “Soot” is just another nit-picking way to hate humanity and put up road-blocks to its survival. I’m surprised anyone here takes this new tactic seriously.

  56. More soot than in WWI and II.
    Those trucks transport every item used in commerce without which the modern world would collapse into third world status. And diesel trucks would be replaced by what that has not yet been ivented?

    Is there a mental disorder that finds danger and fault in everything good and attaching it to an imaginary outcome or is it an excuse to grab power and control.

  57. Probably too obvious to mention, but “soot” or “black carbon” is also “wasted fuel”. Filtering it out is good, burning it up (in a place where it would do some good) is even better. I don’t know how to improve combustion efficiency – the people who do are working on it (I hope).

    Best,
    Frank

  58. Jerry from Boston says:

    As for the health effects of the brown cloud/black carbon/soot, it’s awful – hundreds of thousands of Indians and Chinese are dying every year from soot-related respiratory diseases due to their cooking stoves which use dung, biofuel and coal in enclosed spaces. I think we in the West could offer humanitarian aid by supplying more effective and cheap cooking stoves using gas, solar, whatever.

    I’ve read stories about how some charity or international agency is promoting the use of more efficient stoves in India, which use the traditional fuels. These are claimed to cut soot emissions by about 50%, iirc, and provide more heat. And they’re cheap (sheet metal, I think).

  59. How much does soot lower the melting point of snow and ice? And how many hours of sunlight are required for the soot to lower the melting point. I ask because I have been in the far north in the winter, and believe me, even when the sun was at its peak (still far down on the horizon), solar energy melted nothing outside! Therefore I assume all this melting is done during the summer months. And what stops the ice and snow from replenishing when the temperatures drop? Just curious.

  60. Quote from the American Chemical Society article:
    “Soot emissions are second only to carbon dioxide (CO2) in promoting global warming, but its effects have been underestimated in previous climate models. ”

    Title of this post:
    Soot easier to control than CO2 – may help Arctic ice

    So, control the soot, but not the CO2?

  61. of course if you want to stop the trucks with their EVILE diesel engines you could try the novel concept of steel wheels (with one inch guide ridges on their inner edges) and run them down steel ribs set in the ground. of course this would mean that less diesel fuel would be used because a steel wheel against a steel rib takes much less power to move…….. and then if you really wanted to be green you could run a wire over the ribway and draw electric power from atomic reactors to power your system and every thing would be peachy keene.

    well thats a railway. the first ones in the united states were built in the 1830s. the business about the reactor happened in 1953 when the Pennslyvania Railroad ran a train on tracks speciffically fed by the reactor at Saybrooke in newhampshire.

    and you know what they do it every day. they just use commercial power from the grid which is what 20% nuke.

    if you really want to cut diesel soot why not electrify the mainlines of the five big railroads as a WPA project and get the show on the road.

    C

  62. pk says:
    September 3, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    “…if you really want to cut diesel soot why not electrify the mainlines of the five big railroads as a WPA project and get the show on the road.”

    Don’t you mean “get the show off the road”?

  63. SIRRAH SKINNER:
    the major railroads have taken a really good look at the economics and have signed contracts with the big trucking companies and as a result have given up the shorter than 500 mile hauls.

    that means that if one of the two companies is offered a haul of say 350 miles the truck company does it. that is a (less than car load quantity) if it is more then its put in a trailer or container and taken to a tranship hub and put on a train.

    railroads are interested in huge quantities hauled many many miles. these are mainly coal and ores.

    at the coal fields they load a 12,000 tare train in three hours. and unload it in about the same time.

    where they haul massive amounts of liquid (they cannot compete with pipelines but can and have competed successfully with coastal shipping) they have an arrangement where an entire train is loaded and discharged by connecting to a single connection [they cheat by breaking the train into several segments and connecting the fill and discharge lines into about a quarter of the train at each connection]. these they load and unload in 3-4 hours per trainload.

    however the greenies consider them EVIL as they are large companies that study their work assiduously and don’t jump for the latest snake oil formula.

    C

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