High levels of black carbon discovered in Siberia, which could speed up Arctic thaw

Black carbon accelerates climate change by darkening snow and ice to make them warm faster.

There is more soot in remote Siberia than at the edge of densely populated Europe, even though there are hardly any people there, the first in-depth study of black carbon in the region has found. In Tiksi, a small town in an isolated region of north-eastern Siberia, the levels of black carbon emitted by traffic is at higher levels than in Sweden, according to the two-year study published in the journal PNAS. Before this study, black carbon levels in this part of Russia were a blank spot on the map.

Black carbon pollution is a problem in the Arctic because it amplifies the effects of climate change. When black soot lies on white snow it increases the absorption of heat of the snow, which would otherwise be reflected back out into space. This increases the rate at which the permafrost in northern Siberia is melting. Read more.

Tags: Geology