BEIJING, Jan. 2 (PTI) A study finds that black carbon aerosols indirectly affect the mass gain of Tibetan Plateau glaciers by altering long-range water vapor transport in the South Asian monsoon region.
South Asia, which borders the Tibetan Plateau, is one of the world’s highest emitters of black carbon, the researchers said.
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Black carbon aerosol is produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass, and has the characteristics of strong light absorption.
Many studies have highlighted that black carbon aerosols from South Asia can be transported across the Himalayas to the interior of the Tibetan Plateau.
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The researchers note that black carbon deposits in snow reduce the surface’s albedo — a measure of how much solar radiation is reflected — which could accelerate the melting of glaciers and snowpack, altering hydrological processes and water in the region. resource.
The study, published in Nature Communications, found that South Asian black carbon aerosols have indirectly affected the mass gain of Tibetan Plateau glaciers since the 21st century by altering long-range water vapor transport from the South Asian monsoon region.
“Black carbon aerosols in South Asia heat the middle and upper atmosphere, thereby increasing the north-south temperature gradient,” said Professor Kang Shichang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
“Correspondingly, the convective activity in South Asia is enhanced, leading to the concentration of water vapor in South Asia. At the same time, black carbon also increases the number of cloud condensation nuclei in the atmosphere,” Shichang said.
The researchers said that these changes in meteorological conditions caused by black carbon aerosols have made more water vapor form precipitation in South Asia, and the ability to transport it northward to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has weakened.
As a result, precipitation decreased in the central and southern Tibetan Plateau during the monsoon, especially in the southern Tibetan Plateau, they said.
The reduction in precipitation further contributed to the reduction in glacier mass gain. From 2007 to 2016, the reduction in mass gain caused by precipitation reduction accounted for 11% of the average mass loss of glaciers on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and 22.1% of the mass loss of glaciers in the Himalayas.
“Transboundary transport and deposition of black carbon aerosols from South Asia accelerated glacier loss on the Tibetan Plateau.
“At the same time, the reduction of summer precipitation on the Tibetan Plateau will reduce the mass gain of plateau glaciers, which will increase the number of glacier mass deficits,” Shichang added. PTI
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