[Original article contributed by the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Project]
Soot, also known as black carbon and a component of carbonaceous aerosols, is the second largest man-made contributor to global warming, and its influence on climate has been greatly underestimated, according to a new international study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres today.
Diesel engines, forest fires and many other sources throw heat-trapping specks of soot – black carbon – into the atmosphere. In addition to causing respiratory health problems, black carbon also warms the climate. For decades, its full impact on climate has been the source of much debate.
The study for the first time presents a comprehensive and quantitative analysis of the role of black carbon on the climate system. David Fahey, Ph.D., a research physicist in the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., is a co-lead author of the study, led by the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Project (IGAC).
The research indicates that black carbon ranks second behind carbon dioxide as the major cause of man-made global warming and that its influence on climate has been underestimated, confirming some earlier studies that also showed a significant role for black carbon in climate warming. The study, a four-year, 250-page effort, is likely to guide research efforts, climate modeling, and policy for years to come.
The NOAA Climate Program Office's Earth System Science program helped support this study.
Read the full press release online.
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