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Atmospheric Sciences & Global Change Division
Staff Awards & Honors

September 2012

Project Won to Lead Black Carbon Research in Russian Arctic

Selection based on expertise in greenhouse gas emissions assessment, mitigation techniques

Diesel Smoke
Diesel engines are a major emitter of soot, also known as black carbon. Black carbon is a greenhouse gas contributor in the atmosphere and has a large impact on Arctic warming. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Enlarge Image

Battelle, which operates Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has won a $1M contract to assess levels of black carbon in the Arctic and test techniques to reduce these greenhouse gas sources. As part of the cooperative agreement with Environmental Protection Agency, over the next 3 years researchers working at the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI) will provide technical expertise and project management for baseline emissions inventories of black carbon from diesel burning.

The Black Carbon-Russian Arctic Warming Connection
The Arctic is warming faster than any other region of the Earth. Melting sea ice warms the region's waters driving atmospheric heat and circulation which has world-wide climate impacts. Diesel and biomass burning in the Arctic emit black carbon, a sooty particle that is the second largest contributor to the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere after carbon dioxide. Russia, a country with the largest land mass in the Arctic, has major open water ports and industrial installations, the source of large amounts of diesel emissions from ship engines, generators, road vehicles, and other equipment. These factors come together to provide a unique environment to assess and pilot effective black carbon mitigation, providing a potentially large reduction opportunity in Arctic warming.

Project Roadmap
Over the next 3 years, the researchers will develop first-of-a-kind inventories of black carbon emissions rates from diesel sources in the Russian Arctic. The inventories will provide baseline information for scientists and policy makers to assess and locate black carbon emission sources. They will also work with stakeholders designing projects to demonstrate limiting black carbon emissions from diesel-fueled machines and vehicles. The team will investigate policy and incentive proposals for black carbon reduction and recommend possible financing sources for mitigation technologies. Many effective technologies exist to mitigate emissions of black carbon, and the project will address these techniques from a large-scale and targeted focus.

The results of the assessment and demonstration projects will be shared with other Arctic nations to enable collaboration on black carbon emissions mitigation. The study results will be delivered in a report to the Arctic Council and the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission.

Acknowledgments: The project is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through an interagency agreement with the U.S. Department of State. This project is part of the Arctic Black Carbon Initiative, a $5M commitment to work in the Russian Arctic announced at COP-15 in Copenhagen, Denmark by President Obama. U.S. government participants are the EPA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Research Team: The team is led by researchers Meredydd Evans, Alison Delgado, Volha Roshchanka and Dr. Steve Smith at JGCRI, and collaborators at the University of Maryland and Battelle.The team will also work with international collaborators at Murmansk State Technical University in Russia and the World Wildlife Fund of Russia.


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