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Soot may play big role in climate change

Diesel fuel, used in many trucks, is a major source of black carbon in the U.S. and Europe, along with barbecues and wood-burning fireplaces. The particles are "what you see outside your door on the horizon," says atmospheric scientist V. Ramanathan.

Black carbon pollution, or soot,
produced by burning wood, coal, cow dung and diesel fuel, may be a much greater contributor to global warming than previously suspected, according to a study released this week. The report concludes that the atmospheric warming effect of black carbon pollution is as much as three to four times the consensus estimate released last year in a report. Unlike carbon dioxide, which traps solar energy radiating back from Earth's surface, black carbon particles absorb solar radiation as it enters Earth's atmosphere, increasing its heat. In addition, when they precipitate onto snowy areas, they increase heat absorption that leads to glacial melting. The report concluded that black carbon pollution, which scientists blame for the premature deaths of more than a million people, is one of the major contributors to the retreat of the Himalayan glaciers.
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