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Study finds transport, residential heating main sources of black carbon in Russian Arctic

February 04, 2017

According to a new international study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 38% of black carbon in the Russian Arctic originates from transport and 35% from residential heating sources, while open fires, power plants, and gas flaring are responsible for only 12%, 9%, and 6% respectively. These estimates confirm previous work for some areas of the European Arctic, but for Siberia, the findings differ from previous research, which had suggested that contribution from gas flaring were much higher.

Black carbon, or soot, increases snow and ice melt by dulling the reflective surface and increasing the absorption of sunlight. Researchers say this is one reason that Arctic regions have warmed faster than any other area on the planet, with average temperatures there today over 4 °C higher than the 1968-1996 average, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). Black carbon may also be contributing to the steep decline in summer Arctic sea ice coverage in recent decades.

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