Can warming particles enter global climate discussions?

Tami C. Bond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


'Soot' or 'black carbon', which comes from incomplete combustion, absorbs light and warms the atmosphere. Although there have been repeated suggestions that reduction of black carbon could be a viable part of decreasing global warming, it has not yet been considered when choosing actions to reduce climatic impact. In this paper, I examine four conceptual barriers to the consideration of aerosols in global agreements. I conclude that some of the major objections to considering aerosols under hemispheric or global agreements are illusory because: (1)a few major sources will be addressed by local regulations, but the remainder may not be addressed by traditional air quality management; (2)climate forcing by carbon particles is not limited to 'hot spots' - about 90% of it occurs at relatively low concentrations; (3)while aerosol science is complex, the most salient characteristics of aerosol behavior can be condensed into tractable metrics including, but not limited to, the global warming potential; (4)despite scientific uncertainties, reducing all aerosols from major sources of black carbon will reduce direct climate warming with a very high probability. This change in climate forcing accounts for at least 25% of the accompanying CO2 forcing with significant probability (25% for modern diesel engines, 90% for superemitting diesels, and 55% for cooking with biofuels). Thus, this fraction of radiative forcing should not be ignored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number045030
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate policy
  • Effects of aerosols
  • Impacts of climate change
  • Particles and aerosols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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