Oil industry and household stoves speed Arctic thaw

Sep 10, 2013
This map shows the surface concentrations of black carbon, from all emission sources, as simulated by the new study. The study shows that residential combustion emissions and gas flaring emissions are higher than previous studies had estimated. Credit: Stohl, et. al. 2013

(Phys.org) —The new study, published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics by researchers at IIASA and in Norway, Finland, and Russia, finds that gas flaring from oil extraction in the Arctic accounts for 42% of the black carbon concentrations in the Arctic, with even higher levels during certain times of the year. In the month of March for example, the study showed that flaring accounts for more than half of black carbon concentrations near the surface. Globally, in contrast, gas flaring accounts for only 3% of black carbon emissions.

The researchers also found that residential combustion emissions play a greater role in black than previously estimated, after they incorporated seasonal differences in emissions into the model.

To conduct the study, researchers used particle dispersion model FLEXPART driven by emissions estimated with the IIASA's GAINS model, combined with measurements of in the Arctic, made during a research cruise in the Arctic Ocean and research stations located at 6 sites in Alaska, Canada, Finland, Norway, and Greenland.

In the new study, the researchers for the first time included temporal distribution of black from residential combustion. "Understanding how much is emitted when during the year is something that has to be included better in our regional models," says IIASA researcher Zbigniew Klimont, who worked on the study. It also incorporated detailed regional data on the location of gas flaring emissions, improving upon previous estimates that either ignored them entirely or used only regional averages. These improved emission estimates and their allows for a better reproduction of seasonal variability in observed black carbon concentrations.

"We are seeing more and more oil being extracted further and further north. And the proximity of emissions from gas flaring matters," says Klimont. Black carbon, or soot, contributes to warming in the Arctic by darkening the surface of snow or ice and causing it to melt faster, or absorbing more heat in the air.

The warming effect of black carbon on ice and snow has been suggested as one factor contributing to the relatively fast warming of the Arctic compared to the rest of the world. Arctic sea ice has declined faster than climate models predict, hitting new record lows in 2007 and 2012.

Explore further: The Arctic is especially sensitive to black carbon emissions from within the region

More information: Stohl, A., Klimont, Z., Eckhardt, S., Kupiainen, K., Shevchenko, V. P., Kopeikin, V. M., and Novigatsky, A. N.: Black carbon in the Arctic: the underestimated role of gas flaring and residential combustion emissions, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 8833-8855, DOI: 10.5194/acp-13-8833-2013, 2013.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study predicts an ice-free Arctic by the 2050s

Aug 08, 2013

(Phys.org) —Accelerated climate warming propelled by greenhouse gas emissions could bring an ice-free September to the Arctic by 2054, a University at Albany scientist predicts.

Recommended for you

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

7 hours ago

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

There's something ancient in the icebox

7 hours ago

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...

Image: Grand Canyon geology lessons on view

14 hours ago

The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is a favorite for astronauts shooting photos from the International Space Station, as well as one of the best-known tourist attractions in the world. The steep walls of ...

First radar vision for Copernicus

15 hours ago

Launched on 3 April, ESA's Sentinel-1A satellite has already delivered its first radar images of Earth. They offer a tantalising glimpse of the kind of operational imagery that this new mission will provide ...

User comments : 16

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

spencerpencer
2.7 / 5 (7) Sep 10, 2013
Arctic ice is up 60% this year as opposed to that "record low," just FYI.
tadchem
2.3 / 5 (6) Sep 10, 2013
"...as simulated by the new study. The study shows that SIMULATED residential combustion emissions and gas flaring emissions are higher than previous studies had estimated.>
shavera
3.1 / 5 (7) Sep 10, 2013
There is absolutely nothing wrong with simulations. Most of physics occurs in simulations that we then compare against measurements. Considering by the time we can make future measurements, things may be too late, and that our simulations work well to "retrodict" past observations, then.... it seems like simulated climate data is worth considering.
tadchem
2.1 / 5 (8) Sep 10, 2013
Never confound one's models with reality.
Howhot
4 / 5 (5) Sep 10, 2013
Black carbon soot on ice will melt the ice. (Black absorbs light and re-radiates heat). And FYI,
Arctic ice is up 60% this year as opposed to that "record low," just FYI.
was shown to be more BS from an oil industry supported denier camp. You have to be pretty gullible to buy into that one.

MR166
1.3 / 5 (14) Sep 10, 2013
So you are claiming that the satellite arctic ice measurements are a fake if they show more ice but accurate when they show less ice.
Howhot
4.2 / 5 (5) Sep 10, 2013
So you are claiming that the satellite arctic ice measurements are a fake if they show more ice but accurate when they show less ice.

YES! Because you have no data MR166. There isn't an arctic satellite ice measurements showing an Ice volume increase. I think you have been had by BS my friend.
MR166
1 / 5 (12) Sep 11, 2013
Is this the "oil industry supported denier camp" you are talking about ?

http://ocean.dmi....r.uk.php
Howhot
4 / 5 (4) Sep 12, 2013
@MR166 yes, because there is a huge difference between surface area ice 1/4" thick and Arctic Ice volume several meters thick, the later disappearing very rapidly. Just look at the Greenland glacier melt phenomenon for comparison. You have to question MR166 what heat source is doing that scale of damage or melting?
MR166
1 / 5 (12) Sep 12, 2013
There was a paper published recently which stated that much of the Greenland glacier melt was due to heat below the surface of the earth. Historically sea ice extent has had huge variations. Could carbon particles be responsible for some melting, sure, but until it can be proven that they have a SUBSTANTIAL impact on the total amount of polar ice we need to keep drilling for and using hydrocarbons. It cannot be proven that earth's climate is in danger of "Tipping" into run away heating or for that matter cooling. The very fact that we exist today points to a climate system that is rich in negative feedback loops.
Howhot
4 / 5 (4) Sep 12, 2013
@MR166, you mention "There was a paper published recently which stated that much of the Greenland glacier melt was due to heat below the surface of the earth.". I would really like to understand how that is even possible? It's not only improbable that the Greenland glacier ice is being heated from below, it's impossible! Unless you believe that a large oven exist under Greenland (a continent the nearly size of the USA in land mass), there is no way the ice melts from below.

Nope, it's melting from above from the sun and from warmer than normal air temperatures (from the greenhouse gas heat trapping effects). The same phenomena is happening in the Arctic as well.

All of the melting does provide a warming feed back too. Snow and ice effect the surface albedo (how much light is reflected back into the atmosphere from the surface, snow reflects much more than dark oceans). So as more Arctic ice melts, the less the albedo, the warmer the water and the faster the ice melts.

MR166
1 / 5 (13) Sep 13, 2013
It's time to give thanks that the AGW crowd did not hatch their hoax 20 years earlier. In theory they just might have been able to stabilize or reduce CO2 levels by today at the expense of personal freedoms and increased poverty levels. They would now be claiming victory since world temperatures have stopped rising for the past 16 years and this would be a definite validation of their quest to stop man made climate change.
Howhot
4 / 5 (4) Sep 14, 2013
Oh geez @MR166, give it a rest with that fib. Temperatures have not stop rising globally and we are certainly about to break another record this year with one of the highest global average temperatures. Either your data is localized to some region, or it's just fake data.
Lurker2358
1.4 / 5 (11) Sep 15, 2013
Considering by the time we can make future measurements, things may be too late, and that our simulations work well to "retrodict" past observations, then.... it seems like simulated climate data is worth considering.


Climate models do NOT work well to retrodict past observations, and just as an example, they also don't work well at forecasting basic climate and weather patterns just 6 months out, such as forecasting the number of Tropical Cyclones in a given basin in the next season. This is why none of the agencies give a forecast more than 3 months prior to the season as a preliminary, and then give their official forecast right as the season starts.

Why? Because they can't even model NORMAL climate that happens every year anyway.

So how the hell is anyone supposed to respect a model attempting to calculate "climate change"?
MR166
1 / 5 (10) Sep 16, 2013
The hoax if falling apart.

http://hockeyscht...-we.html
MR166
1 / 5 (10) Sep 16, 2013

More news stories

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...