Black carbon levels spike at Himalayan glaciers

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News: According to a study by scientists at the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), black carbon concentrations near the Gangotri glacier rose 400 times in summer due to forest fires and stubble burning from agricultural waste, and triggered glacial melt

Facts:

Black Carbon

  • Black carbon results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass.
  • It is short-lived and remains in the atmosphere only for days to weeks before it descends as rain or snow.

Concern: 

  • 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, resulting in faster glacial melt.

Additional Information:

Other types of Carbon:

  1. Blue Carbon: It  refers to coastal, aquatic and marine carbon sinks held by vegetation, marine organisms and sediments.
  2. Green Carbon: It is the carbon that is stored in terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, pastures and soils.
  3. Brown Carbon: It is a light-absorbing particle in the Earth’s atmosphere that has the unique characteristics of both cooling the planet’s surface and warming its atmosphere.

Gangotri Glacier

  • Gangotri Glacier is located in Uttarkashi District, Uttarakhand.
  • Gaumukh, the snout of the Gangotri glacier is the source of river Bhgairathi, one of the important tributary of River Ganga