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The Arctic Ice Melting Caused by Black Carbon from an Environmental Risk Analysis Perspective
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, School of Natural Sciences.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The purpose with this essay is to highlight the environmental risk that black-carbon aerosols represent to the ice melting in the Arctic. When the ice melting in the Arctic and other climate-related issues are highlighted, the focus is primarily on carbon dioxide and the risks related thereto. Black-carbon aerosols and their environmental effects are much more unknown to most people. The effect that black carbon exerts on the Arctic ice melting is mainly that it causes a decrease in albedo. The term albedo is a measure of the proportion of the sunlight that hits the surface and then is reflected. A reduction in albedo means that a greater proportion of the incoming solar radiation is absorbed by the surface area. This is exactly what happens when black-carbon aerosols end up in the Arctic. Because of the black colour of the aerosols, the surface where the aerosols are deposited becomes darker, which means an increased light absorption, which in turn heats the surface and accelerates the ice melting process.

The essay deals with the subject based on the environmental risk paradigm. That means that the focus is placed on the following three steps: the -risk assessment, the -risk communication and the -risk management. The risk assessment is used to assess the threat posed by black-carbon aerosols. Where and how black carbon occurs, and its ability to disperse to the Arctic constitute an important part of the risk assessment. Other environmental risks and especially the health risks associated with black carbon have also to some extent been treated in this essay. This is primarily because of the fact that those other environmental hazards that are not related to the Arctic may be relevant when it comes to increasing the incentives to reduce the emissions of black carbon. The facts that emerge in the risk assessment clearly indicate that Southeast Asia is of great importance when it comes to black carbon that ends up in the Arctic. The risk management is used to analyse the methods which are most appropriate and profitable in terms of reducing the emissions. The available technologies to reduce the emissions of black carbon are also treated. It turns out that the profitability to make emission reductions is greatest in Southeast Asia. The fact that the profitability to make emission reductions is greatest in the part of the world where the emissions are greatest indicates that there is a great potential to overcome the problem. The countries in Southeast Asia may need support from the Western countries when it comes to implementing measures in order to reduce the emissions. The risk communication is a part of the environment risk paradigm that is constantly needed in order to communicate the risks at various levels. An important conclusion of this essay is that the environmental risk communication between researchers and policy makers is insufficient. An improvement of this could lead to more vigorous measures to be taken in order to overcome this problem.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 51 p.
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-15955OAI: diva2:461913
Subject / course
Environmental Science
Educational program
Environmental Risk Analysis Master Programme, 60 credits
Life Earth Science
Available from: 2011-12-07 Created: 2011-12-06 Last updated: 2011-12-07Bibliographically approved

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