Feeds

Soot warming 'maybe bigger than greenhouse gases' - NASA

Forget Copenhagen CO2 cuts, tune your diesel properly

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Forget about burping cows, airliners and green IT - just tune up your diesel engine and chip in towards modern stoves for everyone

But according to NASA this week:

The new research, by NASA’s William Lau and collaborators, reinforces with detailed numerical analysis what earlier studies suggest: that soot and dust contribute as much (or more) to atmospheric warming in the Himalayas as greenhouse gases.

"We need to add another topic to the climate dialogue," says Lau.

Hal Maring of NASA headquarters goes further, though he cautions that more field results from the "roof of the world" are necessary to validate Lau's modelling.

"Even at this stage we should be compelled to take notice," says Maring. “Airborne particles have a much shorter atmospheric lifespan than greenhouse gases, so reducing particle emissions can have much more rapid impact on warming.”

One of the most troublesome types of aerosol is "black carbon", dark particulate soot emitted when fuel is incompletely burned. Diesel engines are a particular villain here, but coal burning and primitive cooking are also big contributors. If the new research is right, huge reductions in warming are on offer from comparatively easy initiatives such as better stoves, more efficient modernised diesel engines and cleaner coal powerplants, boilers etc. These measures would also take effect much more quickly than comparatively difficult, expensive and unpopular cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2 or methane.

Even Lau's Goddard colleague Dr James Hansen, who has spent the last several decades relentlessly bigging-up the greenhouse gas threat and pushing for emissions cuts, now admits that soot is a major issue - though he can't bear to suggest it might actually be bigger than greenhouse gases.

"Black soot is probably responsible for as much as half of the glacial melt," he says.

It seems that the assembled, warring delegates at the Copenhagen greenhouse-gas talks - trying to prevent global temperature rises in the next few decades, ie in the fairly short term - may be arguing over the wrong things. According to the latest NASA research the human race might achieve more by sorting out its soot emissions first, a thing which would be comparatively easy to do, and get to the much more difficult, unpopular and less effective greenhouse gas cuts afterwards. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.