Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Dark snow: from the Arctic to the Himalayas

Posted by on Jul. 13, 2014 at 10:10 AM
  • 20 Replies

When American geologist Ulyana Horodyskyj set up a mini weather station at 5,800m on Mount Himlung, on the Nepal-Tibet border, she looked east towards Everest and was shocked. The world's highest glacier, Khumbu, was turning visibly darker as particles of fine dust, blown by fierce winds, settled on the bright, fresh snow. "One-week-old snow was turning black and brown before my eyes," she said.

The problem was even worse on the nearby Ngozumpa glacier, which snakes down from Cho Oyu – the world's sixth highest mountain. There, Horodyskyj found that so much dust had been blown on to the surface that the ability of the ice to reflect sunlight, a process known as albedo, dropped 20% in a single month. The dust that was darkening the brilliant whiteness of the snow was heating up in the strong sun and melting the snow and ice, she said.

The phenomenon of "dark snow" is being recorded from the Himalayas to the Arctic as increasing amounts of dust from bare soil, soot from fires and ultra-fine particles of "black carbon" from industry and diesel engines are being whipped up and deposited sometimes thousands of miles away. The result, say scientists, is a significant dimming of the brightness of the world's snow and icefields, leading to a longer melt season, which in turn creates feedback where more solar heat is absorbed and the melting accelerates.

In a paper in the journal Nature Geoscience, a team of French government meteorologists has reported that the Arctic ice cap, which is thought to have lost an average of 12.9bn tonnes of ice a year between 1992 and 2010 due to general warming, may be losing an extra 27bn tonnes a year just because of dust, potentially adding several centimetres of sea-level rise by 2100. Satellite measurements, say the authors, show that in the last 10 years the surface of Greenland's ice sheet has considerably darkened during the melt season, which in some areas is now between six and 11 days longer per decade than it was 40 years ago. As glaciers retreat and the snow cover disappears earlier in the year, so larger areas of bare soil are uncovered, which increases the dust erosion, scientists suggest.

Research indicates that the Arctic's albedo may be declining much faster than was estimated only a few years ago. Earlier this year a paper inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that declining Arctic albedo between 1979 and 2011 constituted 25% of the heating effect from carbon dioxide over the same time.

According to Danish glaciologist Jason Box, who heads the Dark Snow project to measure the effect of dust and other darkening agents on Greenland's ice sheet, Arctic ice sheet reflectivity has been at a near record low for much of 2014. Even a minor decrease in the brightness of the ice sheet can double the average yearly rate of ice loss, seen from 1992 to 2010.

"Low reflectivity heats the snow more than normal. A dark snow cover will thus melt earlier and more intensely. A positive feedback exists for snow in which, once melting begins, the surface gets yet darker due to increased water content," says Box on his blog. Both human-created and natural air pollutants are darkening the ice, say other scientists.

Nearly invisible particles of "black carbon" resulting from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels from diesel engines are being swept thousands of miles from industrial centres in the US, Europe and south-east Asia, as is dust from Africa and the Middle East, where dust storms are becoming bigger as the land dries out, with increasingly long and deep droughts. Earlier this year dust from the Sahara was swept north for several thousands miles, smothered Britain and reached Norway.

According to Kaitlin Keegan, a researcher at Dartmouth College in the US state of New Hampshire, the record melting in 2012 of Greenland's northeastern ice-sheet was largely a result of forest fires in Siberia and the US.

Any reduction in albedo is a disaster, says Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Oceans Physics Group at Cambridge University.

He said: "Replacing an ice-covered surface, where the albedo may be 70% in summer, by an open-water surface with albedo less than 10%, causes more radiation to be absorbed by the Earth, causing an acceleration of warming. "I have calculated that the albedo change from the disappearance of the last of the summer ice in 2012 was the equivalent to the effect of all the extra carbon dioxide that we have added to the atmosphere in the last 25 years," he says.

UlyanaHorodyskyj, who is planning to return to the Himalayas to continue monitoring dust pollution at altitude, said she had been surprised by how bad it was.

"This is mostly manmade pollution," she said. "Governments must act, and people must become more aware of what is happening. It needs to be looked at properly."

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/05/dark-snow-speeding-glacier-melting-rising-sea-levels

by on Jul. 13, 2014 at 10:10 AM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
JakeandEmmasMom
by Platinum Member on Jul. 13, 2014 at 10:22 AM
Oh wow. That's not good. :-/
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
PerseyG
by Bronze Member on Jul. 13, 2014 at 11:47 AM
3 moms liked this
people are too busy arguing about monkey shirts and pictures of gay parents to notice this alarming topic.

I'm glad I clicked here because I had no idea the pollution was this bad.

has China( the most polluted countrt in the world) send out their official "it wasn't me" anthem yet?
Sisteract
by Whoopie on Jul. 13, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Can you imagine our lungs?

Persey brings up  a good point re China. Have they entered the 19th century yet?

smalltowngal
by Platinum Member on Jul. 13, 2014 at 12:10 PM
4 moms liked this


Quoting Sisteract:

Can you imagine our lungs?

Persey brings up  a good point re China. Have they entered the 19th century yet?

We can't completely blame China though where we, Americans, are the largest purchasers of their goods. If we stopped buying their crap, they would be polluting a lot less. 

PerseyG
by Bronze Member on Jul. 13, 2014 at 12:17 PM
and queu the defenders of big corporations. lol

I wish we'd stop feeding into China's economy for many reasons.

Quoting smalltowngal:

Quoting Sisteract:

Can you imagine our lungs?

Persey brings up  a good point re China. Have they entered the 19th century yet?

We can't completely blame China though where we, Americans, are the largest purchasers of their goods. If we stopped buying their crap, they would be polluting a lot less. 

sj2014
by Bronze Member on Jul. 13, 2014 at 12:57 PM
You guys should see what it's like over in China, India, Nepal. When I was there, I was constantly blowing black out of my nose. Most folks where hankies around their mouth/nose. It was a booming little business to sell funky, decorative hankies for the face.

Those countries are only getting worse as they become more industrialized without any environmental regulation (and our own American corporations have been setting up manufacturing facilities there, too, to take advantage of that). Those populations are also booming and moving from mostly plant based diets to meat laden diets.

All the good the western world could possibly do for the environment, will be completely undone by the east.

WE ARE DOOMED
free1
by ~FreeSpirit~ on Jul. 13, 2014 at 3:24 PM

 

Dark snow: from the Arctic to the Himalayas, the phenomenon that is accelerating glacier melting

Industrial dust and soil, blown thousands of miles, settle on ice sheets and add to rising sea level threat
Dark snow Greenland
Dark deposits on icefields in Greenland, which absorb more sunlight and lead to faster glacial melting. Photograph: Henrik Egede Lassen/Alpha Film
 
 
Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jul. 13, 2014 at 3:29 PM


Quoting smalltowngal:


The phenomenon of "dark snow" is being recorded from the Himalayas to the Arctic as increasing amounts of dust from bare soil, soot from fires and ultra-fine particles of "black carbon" from industry and diesel engines are being whipped up and deposited sometimes thousands of miles away.

THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH ROLLING COAL

Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of hype and hysteria over “rolling coal," a redneck motorsport trend that involves tricking out diesel pickup trucks to emit giant plumes of black smoke. Mostly, this is done for fun or performance enhancement, but nowadays it seems the kids are “rolling coal” to piss off cops, Prius drivers, and anyone else who happens to get in the way of their big-ass trucks. Naturally, this has driven the left into a panic.

Rolling coal is not a new phenomenon. The trend stems from truck-pull competitions popular at county fairs and rural speedways, in which two diesel trucks face off to see which one can carry a weighted sled the farthest. To increase power and speed, truck-pull drivers modify their vehicles to dump excess fuel into the motor, which has the added effect of making the trucks emit clouds of soot. It’s an impressive effect—a sort of visible manifestation of the vehicle’s power and speed. Unsurprisingly, other pickup enthusiasts (mostly teenage boys) have tried to recreate the show, coughing up anywhere between $500 and $5,000 to make their car smoke. The motivations aren’t complicated: It looks cool, and it’s funny to roll coal on babes

It wasn’t until last month that coal rolling turned into a flashpoint in America’s perennial culture wars, thanks to a Vocativ article unearthing the inevitable online subculture, or “pollution porn," as the author describes it, that has emerged around “coal rollin' diesel.” As it turns out, there are literally thousands of Instagrams, Tumblr posts, Facebook groups, and sweet truck memes dedicated to rolling coal, not to mention endless YouTube videos with names like “World’s Sickest Coal Rollers” and “Prius Repellent.”

It’s that last one that has really lathered up progressive hysteria. With the help of this post from Slate’s David Weigel, coal rolling has morphed from gearhead gimmick and occasional road-rage weapon into some kind of far-right political protest, akin to bringing an assault weapon to Chipotle or camping out at Bundy Ranch. “The motivation,” Weigel wrote, “is roughly the same one that gets people buying guns and ammo after mass shootings.” Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall chimed in: “Not sure I've seen much that better captures the cultural moment than this,” he wrote in a blog post. The liberal blogosphere uniformly agreed, albeit more shrilly: Coal rolling, their argument goes, is just another right-wing fuck-you to Barack Obama, environmentalists, and the actual environment.

it’s sweet to make your car look like a cartoon.

“I know the people who do this are not doing this for some kind of political protest—they’re doing it because it’s something cool,” Lawson said. “A kid gets his new diesel and he thinks that it's the greatest thing in the world, the fact that he can roll coal. He's thinking, This is cool, a truck that actually does something instead of just going from point A to point B. I can make my own little show.

“I think this has all been blown out of proportion,” he added. “At the end of the day, this is America, and we have the free rights that everyone else does. Our planet, our country, has bigger issues to worry about than a couple of trucks blowing smoke."  

(source)

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jul. 13, 2014 at 3:33 PM

What Glacier Blanc in the French alps used to look like:

what it now looks like:

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Jul. 13, 2014 at 3:38 PM


Quoting sj2014: You guys should see what it's like over in China, India, Nepal. When I was there, I was constantly blowing black out of my nose. Most folks where hankies around their mouth/nose. It was a booming little business to sell funky, decorative hankies for the face. Those countries are only getting worse as they become more industrialized without any environmental regulation (and our own American corporations have been setting up manufacturing facilities there, too, to take advantage of that). Those populations are also booming and moving from mostly plant based diets to meat laden diets. All the good the western world could possibly do for the environment, will be completely undone by the east. WE ARE DOOMED

In January 2012, as part of its 12th Five-year Plan, China published a report 12th Five-year Plan on Greenhouse Emission Control (guofa [2011] No. 41), which establishes goals of reducing carbon intensity by 17% by 2015, compared with 2010 levels and raising energy consumption intensity by 16%, relative to GDP.[21] More demanding targets were set for the most developed regions and those with most heavy industry, including GuangdongShanghaiJiangsuZhejiang and Tianjin.[21] China also plans to meet 11.4% of its primary energy requirements from non-fossil sources by 2015.[21]

The plan will also pilot the construction of a number of low-carbon Development Zones and low-carbon residential communities, which it hopes will result in a cluster effect among businesses and consumers.[21]

In addition, the Government will in future include data on greenhouse emissions in its official statistics.[21] By Mayur Pathakk



(source)

China is the world's leading producer of energy from renewable sources and is on the way to overtaking developed countries in creating clean technologies, according to a report by the Climate Group.

Published today, the group's report, China's Clean Revolution, shows that supportive government policies investing billions of dollars in energy efficiency and renewables are driving huge levels of innovation in China.

The Climate Group says that, despite its coal-dependent economy, China has become a world leader in the manufacture of solar photovoltaic technology - its six biggest solar companies have a combined value of over $15bn (£7.57bn). Around 820 megawatts of solar PV were produced in China in 2007, second only to Japan.

The country already leads the world in terms of installed renewable capacity at 152 gigawatts. In the next year, China will also become the world's leading exporter of wind turbines and it is also highly competitive in solar water heaters, energy efficient home appliances, and rechargeable batteries.

"For too long, many governments, businesses and individuals have been wary of committing to action on climate change because they perceive that China - the world's largest emitter - is doing little to address the issue," said Steve Howard, chief executive of the Climate Group.

"However, the reality is that China's government is beginning to unleash a low-carbon dragon which will power its future growth, development and energy security objectives."

The report says that investment in renewable energy in China (around $12bn in 2007) is almost level with world leader Germany as a percentage of GDP.

The Climate Group also highlights China's fuel efficiency standards for cars, which are 40% higher than those in the US. Biofuel production is also on the rise: by using marginal land that is half the size of the UK, China is the already world's third largest producer of ethanol.

The country also has a target to reduce energy intensity by 20% on 2005 levels by the end of this decade.

Chanhua Wu, Greater China director at the Climate Group, said that, despite the positive news from China, the litmus test for the country's move towards a low-carbon future would depend on whether it could reach two milestones required to avoid dangerous climate change. First, a peak in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and second, progress towards a global emissions goal of two tonnes of CO2 per capita by 2050.

In 2007, China emitted 5.1 tonnes of CO2 per capita compared with the EU's 8.6 tonnes and the 19.4 tonnes for the US.




(source)

China tightens carbon emission laws, offers eco-car subsidy

Summary: China issues the "fifth standard" which comprises more stringent laws on light vehicle emissions, as well as introduces subsidies to promote the use of environment-friendly vehicles nationwide.

China has issued more stringent laws on light vehicle emissions while introducing subsidies to promote the use of environment-friendly vehicles in the country. 

electric-vehicle-car
Manufacturers of electric vehicles will be eligible for government subsidies.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection on Tuesday unveiled the country's "fifth standard" which further tightens emission control requirements, including stricter control on nitric oxide and particles as well as a new indicator for pollutant control. Slated to be fully implemented nationwide from January 2018, the fifth standard is equivalent to current light vehicle emission regulations in Europe, the ministry said in a report by Xinhua Agency

Beijing currently has a supply of low-sulphur fuel and has been approved by China's State Council to deploy the new regulation. Cities with such fuel supply are encouraged to lead the implementation of the fifth standard, the ministry noted.

To comply with the fifth standard, new vehicles in the country will need to go through tougher tests such as doubling their mileage in emission tests.

Incentives to use eco-friendly cars

While one ministry clamps down on carbon emissions, another ministry has stepped up to offer incentives to drive the use of environment-friendly vehicles in China.

The Ministry of Finance said on Tuesday it will offer subsidies starting 2013 to 2015 to promote the use of new-energy vehicles. According to a Xinhua Agency report, manufacturers of electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and fuel-cell vehicles will be eligible for the subsidies. Government agencies, public institutions, and the public transport system will be key targets to adopt the new policy, stated a notice jointly released by the Finance Ministry, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Industry and IT, and the National Development and Reform Commission. 

The subsidies will be measured based on price differences between new-energy alternatives and traditional vehicles, but these amounts will decrease each year with production scale and technological advancement.

China's central financial authorities will also reward pilot cities with subsidies according to the amount of their investment in developing electric-charging equipment. Key target locations include the country's mega-cities or city clusters which face pressures to save energy and cut emissions, such as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster, Yangtze River Delta area, and Pearl River Delta region.

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)