ME EET Seminar: Black Carbon in Fire and Ice

April 21, 2010 - 1:30pm
Campus: 3110 Etcheverry Hall

This presentation will feature two research projects that consider the impacts of black carbon in the environment. Black carbon is a main component of soot from the combustion of fossil and biomass fuels, which absorbs sunlight and contributes to the climate change. The first project considers cookstove emissions that, in addition to endangering the health of more than a billion people in developing regions, contribute much of the black carbon to the atmosphere. We are characterizing the emissions from a traditional "three-stone fire” and the Berkeley Darfur Stove (BDS). The BDS stove was designed as a more fuel-efficient alternative to the three-stone fire and may have the added benefit of reducing pollutant emissions including BC. The experimental setup and initial emissions measurements will be discussed. The second project considers what happens to black carbon when it is removed from the atmosphere. When deposited in snow and ice, black carbon continues to have an impact on climate by reducing the surface albedo. The albedo reduction is estimated with climate models to contribute to global warming and to the melting of snowpack, ice, and glaciers worldwide. The predictions of climate models are partly verified by black carbon concentrations measured in snow at a number of locations worldwide, but the snow albedo reduction by black carbon is difficult to measure under natural conditions and is therefore based mainly on theory. This presentation will describe our laboratory methods of creating and characterizing snow and two experiments: to quantify the dependence of snow spectral albedo on black carbon concentration and snow grain size, and to examine how black carbon is transported in melting snow.

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