Reducing black carbon and methane emissions could reduce Arctic warming
Warming of the Arctic could be reduced by up to 0.25 degrees by 2050 by curbing short-lived pollutants
Reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane and black carbon, alongside carbon dioxide could help reduce the warming of the Arctic by up to 0.25 degrees by 2050, says a new report by the Arctic Council.
The report released by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) looks at how short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP), play a part in global warming.
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"The Arctic is particularly sensitive to climate change, where climate in the Arctic will warm more quickly than the global average," said Marjorie Shepherd, the director of the climate research division of Environment Canada.
Carbon dioxide emissions are by far the main cause of climate change. They can stay in the atmosphere for hundreds of years or longer, which means their warming effects also linger for centuries.
Pollutants such as methane and black carbon have much shorter lifespans that range from a few days to a few decades.
"What's new in some of this work is that we've been able to refine the role of these two climate forcers, black carbon and methane, in the specific climate change in the Arctic," said Shepherd.
Black carbon is produced through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass. When deposited on snow or ice, it can cause surface warming and melting by absorbing solar radiation, said the report.
"Taking action on these short-lived pollutants can have benefits in terms of near-term warming in the next few decades," adds Shepherd.
"We see if you take action on a global scale and use all the methods you have available...you may reduce the increase in temperature by 2050 by approximately 0.25 degrees," said Lars-Otto Reiersen, executive secretary of the Arctic Council's Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program.
Shepherd said the focus on the Arctic has also allowed climatologists to improve the climate models they have for understanding future global climate.
The report also said Arctic countries, including Canada, are responsible for 20 per cent of human-created methane emissions and 10 per cent of black carbon emissions.