UI faculty members receive grant to study black carbon


Photo by bcmacsac1, Flickr

CGRER members Greg Carmichael and Scott Spak received a three-year $900, 000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to study the pollution and climate effects of black carbon aerosol. Specifically, the project looks to determine how black carbon effects human health and climate in California, India and the Arctic.

It is believed that understanding and controlling black carbon could slow the rate of global warming.

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change summarizes black carbon and its effects as follows:

Black Carbon (BC) has recently emerged as a major contributor to global climate change, possibly second only to CO2as the main driver of change. BC particles strongly absorb sunlight and give soot its black color. BC is produced both naturally and by human activities as a result of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass. Primary sources include emissions from diesel engines, cook stoves, wood burning and forest fires. Reducing CO2emissions is essential to avert the worst impacts of future climate change, but CO2 has such a long atmospheric lifetime that it will take several decades for CO2 concentrations to begin to stabilize after emissions reductions begin. In contrast, BC remains in the atmosphere for only a few weeks, so cutting its emissions would immediately reduce the rate of warming, particularly in the rapidly changing Arctic. Moreover, reduced exposure to BC provides public health co-benefits, especially in developing countries. Technologies that can reduce global BC emissions are available today.

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