News Excerpt
Recently researchers conducted a study on black carbon and its levels in Himalayan Glaciers that may influence melting of Gangotri Glacier.

Major Finding of Study
●    Black carbon concentration near the Gangotri glacier rose 400 times in summer due to forest fires and stubble burning from agricultural waste. Black carbon absorbed light therefore can trig glacial melting.
●    The monthly mean concentration of EBC (equivalent black carbon) was found to be minimum in August and maximum in the month of May. The observed seasonal mean concentrations of EBC indicated a pristine glacial source and an absence of EBC sources in the locality.
●    The Equivalent Black Carbon (EBC) aerosols contribute significantly towards global warming due to its light-absorbing nature. Their presence in the eco-sensitive zone, such as the Himalayan glacier valleys, is a matter of serious concern.
●    Impact of Black Carbon on glacier: Black carbon absorbs solar energy and warms the atmosphere. When it falls to earth with precipitation, it darkens the surface of snow and ice, reducing their albedo (the reflecting power of a surface), warming the snow, and hastening melting.

Black Carbon
    Black carbon results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. It mainly comes from diesel engines, industrial smokestacks, burning of wood & cow dung for residential cooking and heating, open air cremation of dead bodies, jungle fire, incomplete burning of biomass, old brick kilns & from burning of incense sticks & oil lamps.
    The fine particles absorb light and about a million times more energy than carbon dioxide. Therefore, it significantly contributes to the warming of the atmosphere.
    Black carbon is short-lived and remains in the atmosphere only for days to weeks before it descends as rain or snow.
    Black carbon also affects snow albedo, snow and glacier melting, regional climate and water resources.
    It further affects cloud formation either acting as cloud nuclei or in-creasing the evaporation rates in cloudy layers.
    India is the second largest emitter of black carbon in the world and Indo Gangetic plains said to be the largest contributor.
    Study by a UN expert panel says that black carbon may increase earth's temperature by 0.5 degree by 2050.

Ways to Reduce Black Carbon Concentration
    Banning of vehicles that emit high levels of black carbon and particulate filter in every fuel engine.
    Strict regulatory measures to tackle the issue of crop burning.
    Rapid response to the incidents of forest fires.
    Use of black carbon filter in industrial, household & other chimneys.
    Installation of low emission brick kilns having black carbon filter facility.
    Use of modern biomass burning stoves to reduce black carbon emissions.
    Use of coal briquettes instead of coal to reduce black carbon emission.
    Ban of fossil fuel burning in open air.
    Use of battery operated vehicles for public transport in big cities.

Brown Carbon, Global Warming Potential, Kyoto Protocol