New Evidence of the Effect of Wood Smoke on Climate Change

New Evidence of the Effect of Wood Smoke on Climate Change

A recent study by scientists at the University of Leeds finds that the influence of soot generated by wood burning on climate change has been greatly underestimated.

This study, which is the first comprehensive and quantitative analysis of the role of soot in the climate system, concludes that particles from wood burning and diesel engines have twice the warming effect calculated in previous estimates. Soot, which is also called black carbon, is second only to carbon dioxide in terms of its effects on warming the climate. This study shows that black carbon has a warming effect approximately two thirds that of carbon dioxide.

Black carbon in the atmosphere absorbs solar heat. This not only heats the atmosphere but also melts the earth’s snowcaps and glaciers when these particles settle on the ground.

Eliminating or reducing wood and other biomass burning may be one of the easiest and most effective ways for us to curb global warming. Co-lead author Dr. Tami Bond notes, “Since black carbon is short lived, the impacts would be noticed immediately.” That’s because while carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for relatively long periods, existing black carbon emissions are washed out of the atmosphere in just a few weeks.

“Reducing emissions from diesel engines and domestic wood and coal fires is a no-brainer as there are tandem health and climate benefits,” said Professor Piers Forster from the University of Leeds

This study highlights the fact that not only does wood smoke pollution have harmful effects on human health, wood smoke harms the health of our planet as well.


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