Black carbon concentrations on surface ice in the Arctic are partially responsible for the acceleration of Arctic melt. A new study published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics finds that gas flaring from oil drilling in the Arctic is to blame for at least 42 percent of this black carbon – and that figure rises at different times of the year. The study also found that conventional household stove emissions play a part in black carbon pollution.


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Black carbon was tested in Alaska, Canada, Finland, Norway and Greenland, and the findings were combined with emissions estimated by the IIASA’s GAINS model. In addition to measuring emissions from oil-extraction areas, the researchers also investigated black carbon emissions from residential combustion, a factor that was not thoroughly researched in past studies. The study collected detailed regional emissions, distributed the data on a map, and found that household stoves are actually causing higher emissions than previously thought.

However, household oven emissions pale in comparison to the pollution caused by oil drilling. Oil extraction sites are creeping more and more north, such that gas flaring more directly affects the surrounding Arctic ice. When these flares occur, ice is covered in soot, or black carbon, which darkens the surface, thus causing the ice beneath to melt faster. Between 2007 and 2012, Arctic ice has melted at a faster rate than ever before, which can be partially attributed to the increasing presence of black carbon.

Via Phys Org

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