Climatic impacts of black carbon


It has lately been estimated that black carbon is the second most important pollutant forcing the climate change. Only carbon dioxide emissions are estimated to have a greater effect on climate. (e.g., Jacobson 2001; Bond et al, 2013). Aerosols containing black carbon, organic carbon and sulfates as well as methane (CH4) and ozone (O3) are commonly identified as short-lived climate forcers (SLCF) or short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP). Aerosols remain in the atmosphere only from days to few weeks.

The climate forcing mechanisms of the SLCFs are depicted in the figure below. Black carbon particles absorb visible light efficiently. As a result, they heat the amosphere in contrast to purely scattering aerosol such as sulfate or sea-salt particles that cool the atmosphere by scattering solar radiation back to space. The indirect effects of black carbon particles are caused by their influence on the properties and processes of clouds and snow surfaces.

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