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      20th-Century Industrial Black Carbon Emissions Altered Arctic Climate Forcing

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          Abstract

          Black carbon (BC) from biomass and fossil fuel combustion alters chemical and physical properties of the atmosphere and snow albedo, yet little is known about its emission or deposition histories. Measurements of BC, vanillic acid, and non–sea-salt sulfur in ice cores indicate that sources and concentrations of BC in Greenland precipitation varied greatly since 1788 as a result of boreal forest fires and industrial activities. Beginning about 1850, industrial emissions resulted in a sevenfold increase in ice-core BC concentrations, with most change occurring in winter. BC concentrations after about 1951 were lower but increasing. At its maximum from 1906 to 1910, estimated surface climate forcing in early summer from BC in Arctic snow was about 3 watts per square meter, which is eight times the typical preindustrial forcing value.

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          Present-day climate forcing and response from black carbon in snow

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            Soot climate forcing via snow and ice albedos.

            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/m(2) in the Northern Hemisphere. The "efficacy" of this forcing is approximately 2, i.e., for a given forcing it is twice as effective as CO(2) 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.
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              Biomass burning — a review of organic tracers for smoke from incomplete combustion

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Science
                Science
                American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
                0036-8075
                1095-9203
                September 07 2007
                September 07 2007
                : 317
                : 5843
                : 1381-1384
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Desert Research Institute, Nevada System of Higher Education, Reno, NV 89512, USA.
                [2 ]Droplet Measurement Technologies, Boulder, CO 80301, USA.
                [3 ]Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.
                [4 ]Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA.
                Article
                10.1126/science.1144856
                17690261
                31a7c600-78b9-4c8c-a72e-2c4983e3beda
                © 2007
                History

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