Millennium Post

Black carbon causing glacier meltdown in Tibetan Plateau: Report

Fossil fuel and biomass, which are sources of black carbon, are accelerating glacier meltdown across the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau, a new research report has found. The report by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Stockholm University found varying contributions from fossil fuel and biomass combustion to black carbon in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau.

In the remote, northern plateau, black carbon is predominantly derived from the burning of fossil fuel, while fossil fuel contributions to black carbon in the snow pits of the inner plateau region are lower, implying contributions from internal sources, such as yak dung combustion, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the report as saying.

The study showed an approximately equal influence of biomass combustion sources within the southern Tibetan Plateau and Himalayas that mainly stem from emissions from the Indo-Gangetic Plain, it said.

The study provided data for further analysis of air transporting black carbon and information that can be used by policymakers addressing glacier melting and emissions, Kang Shichang, one of the authors of the report and a researcher with the Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources under the CAS said. 

It indicated pollution from burning yak dung for cooking or heating among herdsmen and farmers in some areas of the plateau might be higher than first imagined, Kang said. In Tibet, about 74 per cent of the autonomous region’s population live in rural area, many of whom use yak or sheep dung as a heat source. 
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