Black Soot Coating Himalayan Glaciers is Accelerating Melting

photo: McKay Savage via flickr.

The soot from diesel fumes and indoor cooking fires is a well known human health problem, but here's the broader angle on that: New research shows that black carbon emitted from older diesel engines and from wood and dung used in traditional cook stoves is accelerating glacial melting in the Himalayas, the Guardian reports:According to researchers from The Energy and Resources Institute in Delhi, they have found concentrations of black carbon landing on glaciers in areas which are "supposed to be pristine, untouched environments." These particles absorb sunlight that would normally be reflected from the snow and ice, accelerating melting.

One third of all the black carbon soot in the world is produced in India and China, TERI says, with India lagging behind China in implementing procedures to reduce output -- and India's environment minister poo-pooing proposals to bring reducing black carbon into international climate change negotiations

But All This Can Be Stopped...
Replacing older cookstoves with more modern ones -- even ones which still burn biomass but which do so much more efficiently -- and controlling traffic in the Himalayas, can both help manage the problem, as black carbon particles come out of the atmosphere in a matter of weeks.

Parts of Himalayas Could be Glacier-Free by 2035
Which is good, if actually done, as Chinese estimates show that by 2070 there will be a 43% decrease in glacial area in the Himalayas. Other estimates are even more grim, stating the by 2035 the glaciers on Mount Everest, in the central and eastern Himalaya could gone. Whenever it happens, the effects on water supply downstream, where literally a billion people live, will be severe -- first flooding and then droughts.

More: The Guardian
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Everest and Himalayan Glaciers Could Vanish by 2035, Imperiling a Billion People
Global Warming Melting Glaciers, Shrinking Harvests in India and ChinaConfirmed: America's Glaciers Shrinking Over Past 50 Years, Warming Climate to Blame

Tags: China | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects | India