TOPICS / Black carbon


Black carbon refers to solid particles emitted during incomplete combustion. Diesel engines are an important source, though not the major one. Black carbon contributes to climate change in two ways: in the atmosphere it absorbs sunlight and re-emits the energy as heat; and when deposited on ice or snow, in addition to warming the surface and air directly, it reduces the surface albedo (reflectivity) causing the surface to absorb more sunlight. As a contributor to climate change it is possibly second only to CO2, and because it is short-lived (remaining in the atmosphere only a few weeks) reducing BC emissions could have a very rapid and significant effect on the rate of warming. Black carbon is also a serious public health concern. Exposure to particulate matter is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths globally each year.

Most Recent

Alternatives to heavy fuel oil use in the Arctic: Economic and environmental tradeoffs
Compares the economic and environmental tradeoffs of switching from HFO to two alternative fuels, distillate fuel and liquefied natural gas (LNG), in the IMO Arctic, as defined in the IMO Polar Code.
Working paper
Black carbon measurement methods and emission factors from ships
Measures marine BC emissions in the lab and onboard two container ships, one with a modern Tier II main engine and another with an older Tier 0 engine outfitted with an exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS).
Consultant report
A global strategy to introduce low-sulfur fuels and cleaner diesel vehicles
Presents a global strategy to reduce fine particulate (PM2.5) and black carbon emissions from the global fleet of on-road diesel vehicles by identifying 36 countries for immediate action.
Consulting report

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