Oh, soot!

Dirty Ice: Soot is three times more effective than carbon dioxide--the most common greenhouse gas--at melting polar snow, triggering feedback loops that further accelerate polar warming. COURTESY OF NOAA/MARK DENNET via Scientific American

Also, see below the “Continue reading” line for an impressive scientific visualization video of black carbon being transported around the globe.

University of Iowa News Release July 27, 2010

UI researcher finds black carbon implicated in global warming

Increasing the ratio of black carbon to sulphate in the atmosphere increases climate warming, suggests a study conducted by a University of Iowa professor and his colleagues and published in the July 25 issue of the journal Nature Geoscience. No paper was provided with the press release.

Black carbons — arising from such sources as diesel engine exhaust and cooking fires — are widely considered a factor in global warming and are an important component of air pollution around the world, according to Greg Carmichael, Karl Kammermeyer Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering in the UI College of Engineering and co-director of the UI’s Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research. Sulfates occur in the atmosphere largely as a result of various industrial processes.

Dr. Greg Carmichael

Carmichael’s colleagues in the study were V. Ramanathan and Y. Feng of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, Calif.; S-C. Yoon and S-W. Kim of Seoul National University, South Korea; and J. J. Schauer of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

In order to conduct their study, the researchers made ground-level studies of air samples at Cheju Island, South Korea, and then sampled the air at altitudes between 100 and 15,000 feet above the ground using unmanned aircrafts (UAVs).

They found that the amount of solar radiation absorbed increased as the black carbon to sulphate ratio rose. Also, black carbon plumes derived from fossil fuels were 100 percent more efficient at warming than were plumes arising from biomass burning.

“These results had been indicated by theory but not verified by observations before this work,” Carmichael said. “There is currently great interest in developing strategies to reduce black carbon as it offers the opportunity to reduce air pollution and global warming at the same time.”

The authors suggest that climate mitigation policies should aim to reduce the ratio of black carbon to sulphate in emissions, as well as the total amount of black carbon released.

In a paper published in May 2008 in Nature Geoscience, Carmichael and Ramanathan found that black carbon soot from diesel engine exhaust and cooking fires — widely used in Asia — may play a larger role than previously thought in global warming. They said that coal and cow dung-fueled cooking fires in China and India produce about one-third of black carbon; the rest is largely due to diesel exhaust in Europe and other regions relying on diesel transport. The paper also noted that soot and other forms of black carbon could equal up to 60 percent of the current global warming effect of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas.

Carmichael is chair of the scientific advisory group for the World Meteorological Organization’s GURME (Global atmospheric watch Urban Research Meteorology and Environment) project and chair of the scientific advisory group for the Shanghai Expo pilot project on air quality forecasting. He has worked with Shanghai authorities for three years to help develop an early warning system for air quality problems and heat waves.

The study was funded by National Science Foundation.

=======================================

Tiny air pollution particles commonly called soot, but also known as black carbon, are in the air and on the move throughout our planet. Black carbon enters the air when fossil fuels and biofuels, such as coal, wood, and diesel are burned. Since black carbon readily absorbs heat from sunlight, the particles can affect Earth’s climate, especially on a regional scale. Though global distribution of soot remains difficult to measure, NASA researchers use satellite data and computer models to better understand how these short-lived particles influence Earth’s climate, cryosphere, and clouds. This scientific data visualization uses data from the GEOS5 GOCART climate model to show black carbon’s atmospheric concentration from August to November in 2009.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

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Karl

Great! This study shows we do not need to cap carbon emissions. Just make sure all that’s released from burning hydrocarbons is H2O and CO2.

JimB

And here I was hoping that my link to the Wired article was the basis for this post…lol
How many soot articles can come out at once?
JimB
REPLY: Jim, I had noted your tip, but it was already in my inbox from the source. Thanks though, your help is appreciated even if not on first. Sometimes the magazine article do a better job or have some interesting footnotes. – Anthony

John F. Hultquist

“The paper also noted that soot and other forms of black carbon could equal up to 60 percent of the current global warming effect of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas.”
H2O?

Jeff

Dirty Ice: Soot is three times more effective than carbon dioxide–the most common greenhouse gas–
The caption of that picture tells me all I need to know about the scientific methods used in this study …

Latest from UK Met Office:
Dr Stott said: ‘Despite the var­iability caused by short-term chan­ges, the analysis conducted for this report illustrates why we are so confident the world is warming.’He added it was possible the warming could be due to something other than greenhouse gases.
He obviously was following my posts on WUWT
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC1.htm
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NFC1.htm

Chris R.

Back in either 1999 or 2002, Hansen was singing the “It’s soot” song himself. When he saw that he was gaining traction again with the “It’s CO2”, he all but abandoned any mention of soot.

Bruce Cobb

“The paper also noted that soot and other forms of black carbon could equal up to 60 percent of the current global warming effect of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas.” In other words, we shouldn’t be the slightest bit concerned about it. Reducing soot is certainly a good idea, for health reasons as well as others, but it should be reduced for the right reasons. Worrying about any warming effect from it is just silliness. Par for the course for Warmists I guess.

Ahh, nice to hear about some good old fashion pollution. Soot and sulphates. Dickensian London. Dirty old town. When I look at the dusty sooty plant on the median of my local arterial, sitting there at exhaust pipe level, I imagine how pleased they would be if those pipes were pumping pure CO2.

Curiousgeorge

Excuse me, but my admittedly aged memory seems to recall an experiment by my 6th grade science teacher that demonstrated this, back in 1956. Are we all now expected to genuflect before “new” science?

DirkH

There’s a giveaway in the press release.
“NASA researchers use satellite data and computer models to better understand how these short-lived particles influence Earth’s climate, cr[…]”
Short-lived. Hmm, what does short-lived mean? Googling a little i find this:
“The dark side of aerosols : Article : Nature – [ Diese Seite übersetzen ]von MO Andreae – 2001 – Zitiert durch: 71 – Ähnliche Artikel
But is it reasonable to compare the present-day effects of black carbon, which has a lifetime of about a week, to that of the long-lived greenhouse gases, …

A week.

David

Hmmmm, anyone recall the heavy soot production at the beginning of the industrial revolution? Where in the data does it indicate that huge amounts of soot produced in the the latter half of the 1700s and in the 1800s caused global warming?
No need to answer. The above questions are, of course, rhetorical. The answer is that the global effects on climate of soot and other so-called anthropogenic greenhouse gasses are not very well understood. Neither is the complex mix of natural global thermodynamic elements, despite claims to the contrary from junk-scientists trying to maintain their funding stream.
I expect NASA will soon be manipulating data to show the influence of soot. Hide the decline!

Dr. Dave

Isn’t this the same school that is studying why pig crap stinks? How did they source the evil black carbon to diesel and cow dung? Since when is CO2 “the leading GHG”?

Phil M2.

Black is the new white. Climate fashion changes so quickly nowadays, just can’t keep up.
‘Black carbon could equal up to 60 percent of the current global warming’ . The other 40 percent being caused by white carbon no doubt. There is a good deal running on green carbon at the moment but there are no percentages left for that one.
Warming, WHAT WARMING!
When are they going to ‘Man Up’ and start talking about the cooling. Is there anyone left not taking a paycheck from ‘Big Carbon’ .
[yawn]

DirkH

Now what do we have here. A press release that talks long and in detail about the possible harmful effects of black carbon, about how big a “climate forcing” it may be in relation to CO2 (omitting the onlySIGNIFICANT GHG, H2O) AND omitting to tell us that black carbon has a lifetime of about a week.
I’m not willing to blame the quality of such press releases on incompetence anymore.

Peter Plail

So given that there is only a certain amount of warming happening, then if some of that is attributable to soot then a smaller proportion is attributable to CO2, so CO2 is not as potent as previously thought. That is a good news story that the MSM should be cheering about, especially as there is currently no positive feedback mechanism yet proposed for carbon particles.

JimB

Anthony,
Aren’t they really two different articles by different researchers published in different journals? The Wired article is going to press in “Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres”…and besides, it has MUCH better quotes 😉 and the researcher is “Stanford University climate scientist Mark Jacobson”.
Seems a bit odd to me…sort of through-the-looking-glassish?
JimB

Billy Liar

Also, black carbon plumes derived from fossil fuels were 100 percent more efficient at warming than were plumes arising from biomass burning.
Is this due to particulate size or what?

Billy Liar

Your iceberg has moraine on/in it, not carbon.

REPLY:
Just going on what was provided by NOAA and SciAm – Anthony

rbateman

The solution to trap black soot:
A water bath that the exhaust is passed through.
It doesn’t get any simpler than that, if capturing carbon soot is what you are needing to do.

Tommy

One could look at it another way too. The more a particle absorbs heat, the more heat it transports when a passing storm sucks it up above the clouds. The stored energy is radiated out, day and night, some up towards space, and some down to Earth. But since it got lifted above the clouds, more of that downward radiation gets reflected back towards space.
So it seems reasonable to consider these particles as contributors to both warming and cooling, depending on the circumstances.

kwik

Well, since we cannot thrust them on anything else, why thrust them on this?
The government in Norway has been pushing diesel engines on the public for years now.
Why?

John from CA

The out of focus image appears to be a piece of ice from a calving glacier. The “soot” implied in the image is actually shale flour from eroding hillsides.
“Tiny” particles from dung-fueled cooking fires (you can’t make this stuff up) in China and India are unlikely to make their way to the arctic. If soot is an issue, it’s likely coming from northern countries since the particles would be attracted to water vapor and produce clouds. Soot is necessary to make clouds – where’s the heat?
Is the video just a computer simulation based on the UAV samples in South Korea?

kwik

Oh, I forgot;
“The paper also noted that soot and other forms of black carbon could equal up to 60 percent of the current global warming effect of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas.”
And since there has been no global warming lately, the effect would then be ….zero?

Sandy

Did they borrow the Met. Office’s volcanic ash program to ‘prove’ the distribution around the globe by weather?

Scarlet Pumpernickel

So all this deindustrialization in the west and moving things with carbon credits to China/India where there are no scrubbers on the chimney is causing any warming if it is actually happening not CO2.
Time for China to be taxed to clean up their act! Not the west!

Marko

As John mentions, H20?
I’m still waiting for critical thinkers to explain how methane, a “fossil” fuel, came to comprise much of Saturn’s moon Titan.

PeteM

I realise this web site is dedicted to finding any excuse for climate change other than human activity increasing greenhouse gases, but how much does the temperatue of this planet have to rise before we hear information here that recognises where the real problem is ?

Buffoon

Ah, a pickle.
This result seems reasonable, logical, and will probably bear the brunt of proper skeptical assault. It ties together global warming (by being a blackbody absorber of energy) and pollution in a way that CO2 never could, because it is an objectionable quantity to both sides. Unfortunately, in terms of soot/industry output, the US is near the bottom of the list in terms of polluters in the whole world.
It’s very easy to make a case for carbon black + AGW + environmentalism, but it won’t have a huge domestic money/power grab associated with it that can stand on unfalsifiable ground.
What a pickle for everybody!

Henry chance

So every day we hear splendid reports from Commie China on the climate progress report. How we are never planning on catching up.
75% of the cooking and heating in India and China is done with charcoal, wood, trash and open fire. Talk about dirty energy and pollution.

Stop Global Dumbing Now

“Also, black carbon plumes derived from fossil fuels were 100 percent more efficient at warming than were plumes arising from biomass burning.”
Bah!
NAS funded study. What more needs to be said?

Its funny how the media seems to rediscover black carbon forcings every now and then. I wrote a piece on this back in ’09: http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2009/07/black-carbon-and-global-warming/
This chart gives you a good idea about the respective forcings: http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/pics/0709_blackcarbon_2_431.gif

atmoaggie

Cool. Go, Dr Carmichael.
I studied/worked under him at CGRER during a summer internship some years ago. Very intelligent and level-headed fellow.
A thought: Do you guys realize whose modeling work is supported by this? James Hansen’s (And, yeah, I don’t like it much, either). He was a coauthor on a paper in 2005 (?) concluding that up to, something like, 50% of Arctic ice/snow melt was from Asia-source soot aerosol deposition. Gonna have to find that paper, now.
Hmm, so the GCM models say that the Arctic is the proverbial “canary in the coal mine” concerning CO2 warming and the mouth-CO2-ers point to Arctic sea ice over 30 years to support their work. And then we figure out that less than half of the ice melt has to do with any effect of gases, is it safe to say that GCM prognostications are overly ambitious concerning GHG-driven trends? I’d say so.
If your physical model is correct for a while, but for the wrong reasons, it’s as guaranteed to wrong in the future as it would be if it was completely wrong from the beginning.

Russ Haatch

Just read an article in the local paper as how UI recieved over 400 million dollars in grants for research this past year. Wonder if this research was funded that way.

1DandyTroll

When it comes to ice it’s not just soot that’s the problem but all crap that is spread around by the sea, by the polar bears, by the seals, by the sea lions, by the god damn whales and whalers alike, et cetera. But all the crap stuff in the sea prolly take the numero uno price though. :p

I was in Peru earlier in the year, and the visible carbon from all those ancient diesel engines was horrifying. Although I didn’t get within maybe 5 miles of a glacier, it did have the appearance of being quite dark from soot build up.

A bit of nonsense; the medieval warm period was started by king Alfred burning his cakes.

Ed Murphy

What about the plumes from Iceland volcanoes for example? Eyjafjallajökull was spewing 100+ F-150 pickup trucks of soot and ash a second much of the time.

But….But…But…soot causes global cooling NOT warming.
S. I. Rasool and S. H. Schneider proved it in their 1971 paper Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols: Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate , Science, New Series, Vol. 173, No. 3992. (Jul. 9, 1971), pp. 138-141.
Stable URL:
http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0036-8075%2819710709%293%3A173%3A3992%3C138%3AACDAAE%3E2.0.CO%3B2-7
For aerosols, however, the net effect of increase
in density is , to reduce the surface temperature of Earth. Because of the
exponential dependance of the backscattering, the rate of temperature decrease
is augmented with increasing aerosol content. An increase by only a factor of 4
in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface
temperature by as much as 3K. If sustained over a period of several years,
such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to
trigger an ice age.

latitude

I know it’s hooey, but at least they are looking at something elses beside CO2.
Who knows, in another few years, they might even get around to something that really is pollution…………..

James Sexton

PeteM says:
July 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm
“I realise this web site is dedicted to finding any excuse for climate change other than human activity increasing greenhouse gases, but how much does the temperatue of this planet have to rise before we hear information here that recognises where the real problem is ?”
If you stay here long enough, you’ll see a great diversity in the thoughts regards the CAGW theory. This “soot” study, if read properly puts another hole in the CAGW theory. 60%? So most of the scientists that were screaming CO2 were just morons and didn’t look at plain old every day pollution?
My thoughts, I don’t have a problem with the temperature rising. I think the earth would be better off if it did. Also, what temperature rise? Tell me how much of a temperature rise should we panic for? How much rise is necessary before it gets out of the “natural variation” limits? Additionally, even if the temperatures are rising(beyond natural variations), and even if the cause is CAGW, and even if the imaginary warmth is somehow harmful(history shows us humans thrive better in warmer climates) I would still oppose the proposed solutions. There is no cause greater than the cause of liberty. Any seriously proposed solution to this imaginary problem always entails the sacrifice of the individual in favor of the collective. All of it steps towards a totalitarian oligarchy of unelected officials. No Pete, mankind has socially and politically and economically progressed too far to take a step back to those days. Regardless of how bad the floods and droughts could be in the warped fantasies of the alarmists, it won’t be near as bad as what totalitarian regimes have already brought us. We certainly don’t need to revisit it on a global scale. Regardless of what Mr. Stone says or any ex-soviet says, totalitarian governments are not to be emulated regardless of how grand you may think your cause is.

Douglas DC

As more Natural Gas comes on line-and it will Dirty polluters like China clean up and they are, means that the main source of the polar melting goes away.
Why do I see a “Fallen Angels ” scenario where we clean ourselves up into a major Ice age?…

Phil M2.

kwik says:
July 29, 2010 at 2:26 pm
Well, since we cannot thrust them on anything else, why thrust them on this?
I thought we were the ones getting thrusted!
Phil 🙂

It is lot simpler and cheaper to remove soot than CO2. When attacking a problem t is vital to attack the right problem.
I remember watching a science channel special about glaciers and the announcer seemed to be oblivious to the fact that the glaciers were BLACK !
I wanted to shout at the announcer as he droned on and on about CO2 !

Stop Global Dumbing says:
““Also, black carbon plumes derived from fossil fuels were 100 percent more efficient at warming than were plumes arising from biomass burning.”
Bah!
NAS funded study. What more needs to be said?””
Yes, as a former utility engineer, I would DEFY anyone to take samples from burning “baggese” (i.e., crop left overs) and that from burning pulverized coal.
As a matter of FACT, the output from “pulverized coal” is completely mineral “fly ash” with NO black carbon. BLACK CARBON COMES FROM OFF STOICHEOMETRIC BURNING.
ALL U.S. Coal plants are operated “excess air”. All U.S. coal plants are completely stoicheometric. Therefore NO “black carbon” from US coal plants.
THIS IS A BOGUS CLAIM, period.
I ought to darn well know this. Back in my Omaha days I supplied a researcher at the local natural gas company research center, a few hundred pounds of “fly ash” from our coal plants.
He was kind enough to give us copies of their analysis (they were looking for precious metals and uranium), and those analyzes had the “total carbon” in the fly ash, which was essentially nil.
Baggese, however, has a lot of water..and oft times can give you “incomplete combustion”. (Usually the output is put through BAG HOUSES as Electrostatic Precipts don’t do well with carbon particles.)

ChrisZ

PeteM,
as long as the only place that’s “warmer than usual” is digital simulations and those phantastic “average global temp” curves, derived from data collected with constantly changing equipment (no matter if surface or satellite!) and thus without any believable connection with reality, you’ll largely find suggestions here what to do about these models and curves, as they do not describe a problem in the real world, but they ARE the problem! More generally, the problem is people believing in theoretical constructs even if (or more perversely: just because) they go contrary to what they are actually experiencing. I bet you personally have coped with temps in a range of 30 or more deg.C from highest to lowest, and so have all the animals and plants around you – how utterly ridiculous to assume that a change of, say, 2 or 3 deg.C is threatening or worrying in any way whatsoever! Get a life!!

David Y

Interesting, though I was expecting the article to mention or address the arguably more immediate and measurable impact of dark soot deposited on ice/snow (accelerated melt).

Jim G

I read somewhere that it was estimated that the Mt Pinatubo eruption put more ash, so2, florocarbons and a variety of other nasties (like soot) into the atmosphere in a few weeks than all that was produced by man since the dawn of the industrial revolution. Anyone ever see such an estimate? Bet it put it up there high enough that it lasted more than a week too. If I remember there was a cooling subsequent to that event as well. And as eruptions go, though it was big on recent scales, it was small in the absolute sense, like compared to Yellowstone when it goes off.

Braddles

Back in the 70s I visited the Athabasca glacier in Canada. Even back then it had been shrinking for decades (in spite of the fact that the fear du jour was a new Ice Age). Our tour guide was quite certain this was caused by industrial soot.

The chance of absorbing IR photons by the carbon dioxide is quite low due to its exiguous mass fraction in the atmosphere.
I have made the calculations and the mean free path for a photon without “touching” a molecule of carbon dioxide is 48.02 m. It means that the photon travels an average of 48.02 m without being absorbed by a molecule of CO2.
The time the photon will take for leaving the atmosphere without “touching” a molecule of carbon dioxide is 0.411 seconds.
Fortunately for living beings on Earth, there are lots of molecules of water vapor (10000 ppmV – 50000 ppmV), nitrogen (780000 ppmV) and oxygen (208000 ppmV), and dust particles (highly variable) and other substances, including microscopic living beings (ice nucleators), that intercept photons before they leave the Earth’s atmosphere.

Alan Simpson not from Friends of the Earth

When I first parsed this story, ( OK in the pub a bit the worst for wear ), I thought they were trying to get their excuses in early to explain the cooling of the next 18 – ? months.
Now soot is to blame for global warming? Are we seeing an effort to blame developing economies for warming?
What is this? ” A big boy did it and ran away”, type excuse?
I sit here doing an “OMG Cat”, look it up on Youtube with the search words in the parentheses if you haven’t had a laugh recently.