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Atmospheric Sciences & Global Change
Newsmakers

January 2017

Hailong Wang's Expertise Tapped for Guardian's Arctic Soot Reveal

Reducing soot emissions to the Arctic would be a ‘quick win,' said an article in The Guardian online. Sought for his research knowledge, Dr. Hailong Wang contributed to the story by citing both observational and modeling evidence: soot is warming the Arctic. The article "Why cutting soot emissions is 'fastest solution' to slowing Arctic ice melt," published online in December, reviewed why cutting soot emissions may be the cheapest and fastest way to combat climate change.

"The warming effect could be through the direct heating to the air, snow and sea ice by absorbing sunlight, and then accelerating the melting of snow and sea ice," Wang said. "When the melting starts, there are positive feedback processes that can lead to even faster melting."

The positive feedback Wang spoke of is the effect when melting starts, forces are set in motion to speed up the melting. The warming reinforces itself.

"Unlike greenhouse gases, soot particles are relatively short-lived in the atmosphere," said Wang explaining a key difference between greenhouse gases and soot. "The average lifetime is around a week or two," said Wang. "New snowfall [can also] cover them [the soot particles] pretty quickly."

The article also explains that near-term warming is a problem requiring speedy solutions. But the benefits can happen relatively quickly.

Wang is a climate modeler focused on atmospheric particles such as soot, and how they travel around the globe and end up in the Arctic. He led the development of a source-tagging technique in a global climate model that quantifies the source-receptor relationships of carbon-based particles to understand their effects on climate warming. He holds a PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Related highlights: The Down and Dirty About North American Snowpack; Playing ‘tag' with pollution lets scientists see who's it.


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