The Dictionary of the Climate Debate (DCD)


black carbon
Definition: (Aka BC | black aerosols | carbon black)

Carbon particulate that is formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass. It warms the Earth by absorbing atmospheric heat and by reducing albedo when it covers snow and ice. However, it stays in the atmosphere for only several days to several weeks, whereas CO2 has an atmospheric lifetime of more than 100 years.

Notes:
1. It is estimated to be the second largest contributor to global warming after CO2. Click here to read a Yale Forum on Climate Change article that claims that it "may be responsible for as much warming in the Arctic as all other anthropogenic forcings combined."

2. For further information about its role in AGW, click here to read Veerabhadran Ramanathan's testimony at the Waxman Hearings on the role of black carbon as a factor in climate change.

Example Usages -

1. "Man-made aerosols are certainly important players in the Earth's energy budget. But it is not clear whether the “white” aerosols (largely sulphuric acid generated from sulfur dioxide released when coal is burned) or the “black” aerosols (largely carbon black associated with coal and biomass burning) are the more important. As incoming sunlight is reflected by “white” aerosols and outgoing earth light is captured and reradiated by “black” aerosols, their impacts work against each other. The “whites” tend to cool the Earth and the “blacks” tend to warm it.
(Source: Wallace Broecker )


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