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Black Carbon and its Impact on the Environment

 Black Carbon and its Impact on the Environment

Black Carbon

  • It refers to the solid, black colour particles produced from incomplete combustion. It is also called soot.
  • Black carbon particles absorb sunlight and thus increase the temperature of the earth.
  • However, these particles remain only for a few weeks in the atmosphere.
  • According to an estimate, about 25-35% of black carbon in the world is emitted by India and China because of large-scale reliance on coal and extensive use of cow dung and wood as fuels in homes.
  • ‘Project Surya’ has been launched by the Government of India to reduce black carbon through promotion of solar plants, lamps, biogas plants and efficient stoves.

Factors Affecting Climate Change 

  • There are many factors which either magnify or reduce the effects of the earth’s climate.
  • Factors such as greenhouse gases increase the temperature of earth, while some aerosols and volcanic eruptions reduce the temperature of the earth.
  • For example, large volcanic eruptions can eject enough ash into the atmosphere to reduce the temperature for a year or more until the sulphur particles settle on the ground.
  • These sulphur particles reflect sunlight from the earth.                        Black Carbon and its Impact on the Environment
  • Estimation of the effect of each gas on climate change depends on the following three factors:

Concentration of gas in the atmosphere:

  • Concentration of gas in the atmosphere is described in terms of parts per million (ppm). For example, at present, there are nearly 420 parts of carbon per million.
  • Before Industrial Revolution, concentration of carbon was only 270 ppm.
  • If carbon concentration increases beyond 450 ppm, then it is believed that Earth would face catastrophic impacts.

Lifespan of gas in the atmosphere:

  • Life span in the atmosphere varies with the nature of the gas.
  • Lifespan of CO2 ranges from 50-200 years; methane has a life span of 12 years; nitrous oxide has a life span of 120 years and fluorinated gas has a life span of even more than 1000 years.                  Black Carbon and its Impact on the Environment

Global warming potential of a gas:

  • The same quantity of methane has 21 times, nitrous oxide has 310 times and fluorinated gases have 140 to 23,900 times global warming potential as that of carbon dioxide.


Environment & Biodiversity

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