Soot, ozone, methane and an Arctic tipping point

12th December, 2009 - Posted by admin - Comments Off

ArcticWarming.Net, a website of Clean Air, Cool Planet says:

Long-term preservation of the Arctic environment will require deep reductions of CO2. At the same time, it appears possible that a near-term effort to reduce short-term pollutants impacting the Arctic region could help slow warming in the Arctic. Without such reductions … there is the potential for an occurrence of a “tipping point” that would entail even greater Arctic, and global, effects.

The short-term pollutants are soot, ground-level ozone and methane.  Here they say:

[Soot] particles can travel large distances and some and some end up in the Arctic …[they absorb] heat in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming [and are] deposited on snow and ice, making the surface darker, less reflective and more heat absorbent.

Ground-level ozone, better known as  “smog,” is emitted from a variety of industrial and mobile sources. Ozone serves as a blanket, trapping heat throughout the northern hemisphere; it is also transported to the Arctic from northern hemisphere sources, where it increases autumn through spring, speeding the springtime melt.

Methane … is second only to CO2 in total effect. Because methane has a shorter atmospheric lifetime (8-10 years) … reducing worldwide methane emissions will have a particularly important near-term benefit in the Arctic.

One of the Clean Air – Cool Planet policy objectives is this:

Developing the scientific and technical information to support near-term actions that could be taken today to slow Arctic warming within ten years or less (projects include work on global-based methane reductions; implementing a northern hemisphere [ground level] ozone reduction strategy; implementing a black-carbon reduction strategy; and minimizing emissions of SLPs within the Arctic).

So to avoid an Arctic tipping point, these are required:

  • global methane reductions
  • northern hemisphere ground level ozone reduction
  • soot reduction
  • reduction of other short lived pollutants in the Arctic

Posted on: December 12, 2009

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