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Earth Science

Black Soot May Be Aiding Melting In the Himalayas 336

Hugh Pickens writes "The Himalayas, home to some 10,000 glaciers, are the main source of replenishment to lakes, streams, and some of the continent's mightiest rivers, on which millions of people depend for their water supplies. Since the 1960s, the acreage covered by Himalayan glaciers has declined by more than 20 percent with a rate of warming twice the global average over the past 30 years. Now Live Science reports that tiny particles of pollution known as 'black carbon' — and not heat-trapping greenhouse gases — may be causing much of the rapid melting of glaciers in the Himalayas. 'Tibet's glaciers are retreating at an alarming rate,' says James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. 'Black soot is probably responsible for as much as half of the glacial melt, and greenhouse gases are responsible for the rest.' The circulation of the atmosphere in the region causes much of the soot-laden air to 'pile up' against the Himalayas. The soot mixes with other dust from nearby deserts, creating a massive brown cloud visible from space that absorbs incoming solar radiation. As this layer heats up in the Himalayan foothills, it rises and enhances the seasonal northward flow of humid monsoon winds, forcing moisture and hot air up the slopes of the mountain range."
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Black Soot May Be Aiding Melting In the Himalayas

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  • by ShadowRangerRIT ( 1301549 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:19AM (#30511192)
    Feeding a lame troll, but the source of soot is the same source as the CO2. So we're still solving the same problem. And they've already noted that the melting in the Himalayas is abnormally fast, but that doesn't change the fact that all the glaciers are melting, if "only" half as fast as the Himalayas.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:25AM (#30511232)

    ...which links to a god damn diagram, not an actual picture from space of a massive brown cloud. Way to fail submitter.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:32AM (#30511284)

    'Black soot is probably responsible for as much as half of the glacial melt, and greenhouse gases are responsible for the rest.'


    Now Live Science reports that tiny particles of pollution known as 'black carbon' — and not heat-trapping greenhouse gases (...)

    Quite shameless. I am almost impressed by the gall of the submitter...

  • underneath we will have a shitstorm of politically biased comments

    so i offer a third option, to climate change doubters and climate change believers:

    1. who fucking cares whose fault it is

    political recrimination gets us nowhere. its cold in the house because someone left the window open? ok, so you're going to sit there and scream at each other over who opened the window? here's a new idea: how about someone demonstrating actual responsibility and instead actually stand the fuck up, walk over, and close the fucking window: NO MATTER WHO LEFT IT OPEN

    2. who fucking cares if we are heating up or cooling down or not changing

    the fact is, we live here, and we are interested in controlling the thermostat. if it gets too cold, do something to turn it up. if it gets to hot, do something to turn it down. we are homo sapiens, this what we do: we do not adapt to our environment, we adapt our environment to us. we do not grow fur, we make clothes. we do not enter torpor at midday, we invent air conditioning

    if you say we shouldn't mess with the weather, you are by extension denying the fact that we already are having an effect on the climate. so we might as well get involved with twiddling with the environment ON PURPOSE, because the notion that 6.5 billion humans can magically have no effect at all is a completely absurd premise on your part

    this environmental attitude is the engineer's approach. fuck all of you capitalists, politicians, activists and hysterical whiners. the engineer will prevail here, because only we have the solution to what the rest of you simply bicker about

    we need scientifically, factually sound well-researched methods for forcing change on our planet on purpose. and then we'll fix your fucking problem. something like seeding the dead zones of the ocean with iron

    lets put it this way: make believe, for the moment, for the sake of argument, regardless of your beliefs, that

    1. the earth is actually heating up
    2. it is doing so because of nature, not man-made reasons

    ok, well what are we supposed to do, just accept rising sea levels, melting glaciers and the sahara desert growing 25%?

    no, we artificially introduce methods for cooling the earth down. we do this, #1, for selfish reasons, but also for #2: a preservation of current species and ecosystems, as a side effect. are you going to let the amazon dry up because you don't like the idea of man fiddling with the environment?

    yes, the planet could continue to evolve new species without human intervention. but what is really going to happen is that this planet is going to become a museum, under human supervision, of the current catalog of species and ecosystems that have evolved so far. why? because we want to fucking live here, that's why

    so, for the deniers in opposition to supposition #1 above: if you don't believe the earth is heating up, you still have to admit the earth has had historic swings in climate, and that we earthlings will have to intervene at some point, correct?

    and for the believers in man-made change in opposition to supposition #2 above: you believe that climate change is caused by man, you have to admit that to fix the problem we have to do it PROACTIVELY. please don't try to sell me the moronic bullshit that 6.5 billion humans can live on this planet like ghosts. this is a different kind of denial than those who deny climate change, but no less foolish

    imagine that: no pointless recriminations and blame games, no living in denial and sticking your head in the sand

    commence with the retarded partisan bickering anyway. meanwhile, us engineers will roll up our sleeves and will actually go and fix your fucking problem while you political assholes do nothing but bicker

    more action, less "hot air"

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:41AM (#30511342)

    So we're still solving the same problem.

    But filtering soot by adding smokestack scrubbers (which 1st world countries started doing many decades ago) is a heck of a lot cheaper and less disruptive than destroying the world economy to eliminate CO2.

  • by ShadowRangerRIT ( 1301549 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:51AM (#30511406)
    You haven't addressed the secondary issue; that the melting in the Himalayas is only doubled by the soot, not caused by it. And the scrubbers would have little to no effect on glacier melt in the rest of the world. And that "destroying the world economy" is a politically motivated, short sighted conclusion. Most of the reasonable forecasts show it "dragging" the economy down by about 1-3% of the "GWP" (Gross World Product). The economic doomsday types like to discount the possibility that the cost of oil will increase much beyond the rate of inflation, as if the entire world can start living like Americans (or even Western Europeans) without drastically increasing the price of oil.
  • by spafbi ( 324017 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:57AM (#30511472)
    Wow... here, have some Prozac. I've often wondered why folks on Slashdot... Nevermind. I was just about to start ranting about how folks here on Slashdot rant as if they're actually going to change someone else's opinion.
  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:59AM (#30511490) Journal

    Cry me a river about lost corporate profits.

    OK, one more time. "Companies don't pay taxes, their customers do!"

    So, look around you and pick out all the items in your life that are made by corporations and try to see how it will affect you to pay a little more for each of them and the power it takes to run them.

  • fact: (Score:1, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <> on Monday December 21, 2009 @10:04AM (#30511554) Homepage Journal

    the earth has had historic massive swings in climate, without any manmade input

    obvious deduction:

    even if you isolate all human effects, you're still going to have a dangerous heating up or cooling down at some point


    you are going to be involved in this sort of purposeful engineering at some point, no matter what humanity's effects are. the alternative is to just allow an ice age or the sahara covering half the globe and massive ecosystem/ species die off. that neglect is a superior approach?

    so why not just sidstep all the pointless bickering and pointless blamegames and get down to proactive engineering now

    we're going to be engineering our climate some day even if we all magically turn into environmental saints. you see that right?

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @10:10AM (#30511592)

    Cry me a river about lost corporate profits.

    Says he who doesn't realize that Eeeeevil Corporate Profits are what

    1. keep us warm (even state-run electrical plants buy their coal/gas from private companies),
    2. dry (unless you're Amish and built your own house),
    3. clothed (unless, again, you are Amish and your wife makes all your clothes),
    4. fed (unless you grow all your own food),
    5. using a computer (how many governments build their own computers?),
    6. on-line (even if you use a state-run ISP,
    7. transoceanic fiber was laid by private companies), and
    8. (usually) employed.

    Or are you too young to remember why the Iron Curtain fell, and why so many (non-union) citizens welcomed (nay, screamed for) government privatization: government bureaucracies do an absolutely suck-ass job of providing services.

  • Shoddy PR at work (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <> on Monday December 21, 2009 @10:18AM (#30511666)

    The linked diagramm is a dead giveaway that this is more of a PR stunt than usefull scientific research. No matter what the verdict, fact is: we are putting to much polution into the atmosphere and we need to stop. That's a fact, and no lobbying otherwise will change it.

  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @10:24AM (#30511730) Journal

    We have already noticed problems with soot []. In fact I recall reading books about terraforming where soot was sprinkled on an ice cap, so the idea is pretty old.

    The article you are referring to is HERE []. It was in response to Global Cooling, which as we all know was false and THANK GOD we didn't do anything about it. Regardless of our arrogance back then, science in the 70's was no where near where it is today. If we had acted on our ignorant assumptions, it surely would have led to an enormous disaster today.

    I wonder what we'll be saying about Global Warming in 35 years.

  • by Breccia ( 785630 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @10:31AM (#30511814)
    Back in 1970, at Resolute Bay in the Canadian high arctic, I had a discussion with two scientists about global warming -- back then, the Arctic Ocean had increased in temperature by 2.7 degrees over the previous 40 years!!! One identified mechanism was soot from the atmosphere, a byproduct of combustion and to a lesser extent, volcanic ash. The amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of an entire ocean by this amount is staggering...

    This soot reduces the albedo of the snow and ice, resulting in less incident energy being reflected back into space and the unreflected energy raising the local temperature.

    For anyone who cares to look, "global warming" is a function of very many causes creating a frightening synergy, greenhouse gasses though probably being the main culprit.
  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @10:52AM (#30512038) Journal

    Fortunately, we did do something about the scattered theories and reports of global cooling in the 60s and 70s. We put more money into climate science to find out what was really happening.

    Yes, because THIS time, we are right. All those other times, we were wrong. So, give us $40,000,000,000,000/yr, control of your lives and we'll fix it for ya.

  • by oldspewey ( 1303305 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @11:02AM (#30512126)
    My eyes must be playing tricks on me because I can't seem to find the sections in those links that discuss massive sea level rise occurring by 2009. Since you wrote "we aren't seeing the massive deluge that was predicted" I have to assume you weren't referring to predictions of sea level rise by 2100 (as referenced in the second of your two links) but sea level rise that would be observable today.
  • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @11:10AM (#30512212) Homepage Journal

    Corporations != the free market. I am not in favor of communism, I am in favor of taking power away from huge corporations and reducing their role in government.

  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @12:10PM (#30512912)

    I am in favor of taking power away from huge corporations and reducing their role in government.

    As am I, but in a globally-connected world I see this as a prisoners' dilemma: all countries must do it together, or some countries corporations will gain the advantage.

    And that's not even counting countries like the PRC, where most large corps are owned by the gov't (usually in the form of the PLA) and thus want these companies to have a lot of power...

  • by gothzilla ( 676407 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:14PM (#30513812)

    Here's where common sense disappears completely. The ONLY power a corporation has comes as a result of YOU buying their products. If you don't want them to have power stop buying their stuff.

    You won't do that though, because you cannot live without the conveniences they provide for you, but keep crying a river about people having money and power YOU voluntarily gave to them. If you truly hated corporations then you would change your lifestyle to one not completely dependent on them.

    How about not electing government officials that take bribes from corporations? You can't blame corporations for the actions of politicians.

    Your hate of corporations is ill-founded.

  • that is, a post that has to loudly and voluminously announce how much they don't care

    paraphrasing shakespeare: methinks the lady doth protest too much

    hey, genius, if you didn't care... YOU WOULDN'T POST

    proof of not caring is not commenting, not being here

    there really are people who don't care about this debate. those people are playing videogames or twiddling on facebook right now. if they saw this thread, they wouldn't even roll their eyes (too much caring in that effort), they'd just click away, truly uninterested. meanwhile, you: you're deep in a thread writing a large comment about how much you don't care. no one is holding a gun to your head to post a comment, friend

    fact: if you comment, emotionally, voluminously, AND WITH ALL CAPS, you obviously fucking care

  • by dtjohnson ( 102237 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:33PM (#30514078)

    Thoughtful people are slowly, slowly awakening to the idea that the climate alarmists predicting doom for the planet's climate may be less than completely right. Previously, the melting of the himalayan glaciers was positively, definitely, absolutely, without doubt, guaranteed attributable 100 percent to the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. The simple fact is that nothing technical that supports the AGW theory that the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration from "pre-industrial" levels to the current level has caused (or even contributed to) any measurable amount of planetary warming. Similarly, there is nothing to support the popular idea that some arbitrary co2 concentration is necessary to maintain our current planetary climate conditions. Our current knowledge of the things that might affect the Earth's climate, and the magnitude of their effect, is primitive, and dominated scientifically by the equivalent of 15th-century flat-earthers. Go to the NSIDC ( website and read their 'news and analysis' to see how they spin every little uptick in the arctic ice cover. Would you trust agenda-driven people like that to tell the unvarnished scientific truth about...anything? They are the technical equivalent of eugenics people excavating an african anthropological site. If the Earth's climate continues to cool (as it has for the last two years) they will keep spinning it as validation of their models, right up until their funding dries up and they have to pull the power plug on their computer and website. Anyone (Al Gore comes to mind) who claims to know all, or even any, of the answers to global climate change is being blatantly dishonest. It was hysterically funny to see record low temperatures and snow visit Copenhagen at the same time that planetary leaders were meeting there to discuss global warming.

  • by Curunir_wolf ( 588405 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:09PM (#30514566) Homepage Journal

    Corporations != the free market. There was capitalism before we became the corporate state we (the U.S.) are now.

    But free market --> Corporations IOW capitalism kills itself. Thanks for admitting that.

    You missed a step or two. Free market --> government intervention --> Corporations --> more government intervention --> Fascism.

    And another comparison you may want to think about: decentralizing government --> more freedom vs. centralizing government --> tyranny.

  • by Curunir_wolf ( 588405 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:15PM (#30514634) Homepage Journal
    The market crash was caused by government intervention and the policies of the Federal Reserve. Try again.
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:57PM (#30515232)
    Lindzen is paid by the fossil fuel industry. Not credible as a researcher

    Ah. And someone who is paid by anyone but them, including by entities that expressly want to see them destroyed, are, of course, entirely neutral and without any agenda whatsoever.

    Taxes do not reduce GDP. After all, that money has to go somewhere

    Are you that obtuse? Taxes suppress the activities that are taxed. People do less of the thing that is taxed. If that thing is "commerce with each other," then that's exactly what you get less of. Conversely, when you lower taxes on things like ... starting businesses or hiring people, you get (demonstrably, over and over again) more of those exact things. Raise taxes on cigarettes? You get less smoking. Raise taxes on luxury goods? The market drifts to those products that are just under whatever threshold you've capriciously set as "luxury."
  • by Curunir_wolf ( 588405 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @04:29PM (#30516372) Homepage Journal

    Yeah the bankers choosing the wrong algorithms to calculate risk on derivatives, a speculative real estate bubble, and no background check loans for houses had nothing to do with the crash right Curunir wolf?

    All activities encouraged by government regulations, and backed up by risk mitigation such as Freddie, Fannie, and the Greenspan put

    Note these actions were all chosen freely by market actors with no government coercion involved whatsoever.

    Not true. At all.

    I'm sure you understand how the CRA encouraged high-risk mortgage lending. Department of Housing and Urban Development set targets for Fannie and Freddie in 1992 to purchase low-income loans for sale into the secondary market that eventually reached this number: 52 percent of loans given to low-to moderate-income families. With that to back them up, and no consequences for brokering loans that couldn't be paid back, it's no wonder too many bad loans were made.

    Add to that regulations that allowed banks greater leverage for government-backed loans. You understand fractional reserve banking, right? Well the government passed regulations that allowed banks to maintain less reserves for having significant amounts of their reserves in the form of government-backed mortgage loans. Add to this the Fed maintaining artificially low interest rates, the knowledge that any failure will be met with bailouts, and you have a perfect storm of government regulation encouraging house-of-cards behavior.

    Even the Libertarians big hero Alan Greenspan admitted there was a "flaw," after the crash, look it up if you don't believe me.

    Really? Greenspan is the hero of the Libertarians? News to me. I've never liked that party, though.

    The problem with conservative Libertarians is you guys are all about responsibility until *you guys* fuck up, and then guess what, it's the "gubmints" fault. How about banksters and real estate agents looking in the mirror and manning up about a serious screw up? Too bad tax payers were left holding the bag on that one,

    Wait - first, as mentioned, I'm not a Libertarian. Plus, all those banksters were just doing what they were encouraged and sometimes required to do by regulation. Not sure what real estate agents had to do with it? How did they screw up? Their job is to sell houses.

    And who called for the bailout? You! Why? Why not let those that cause the problem fall on their face? Why are they being propped up? Oh - government has to step in to interfere more. You may find that in the long run this "cure" is going to be worse than the much-hyped "disease" that the politicians kept telling everyone is sure to come.

    I read for 1.4 trillion we could have paid off *all* Americans sub prime mortgages thus preventing Americans from being foreclosed *and* bailing out the banksters sketchy derivatives.

    So why didn't that happen? Why did it all go to Bears Stearns (and the other institutions that owed Bears Stearns money)?

    Of course that makes too much sense because it benefits everyone as opposed to a chosen few rich people, right?

    I think it's actually more insidious than that. But keep on trusting what the politicians are telling you if it makes you feel better. I think it actually makes a lot of sense when you think about who they are working for (hint: a few rich people).

    And note I actually cheer on Ron Paul and Libertarians when they challenge empire abroad, and police state at home and challenge why a private bank the Federal Reserve mints our money, that is all good stuff. Too bad your faith in the 100% rationality of market actors is so misplaced. Hint greed distorts peoples ability to choose rationally during bubbles which occur often, look up "irrational exuberance."

    That's just another Greenspan excuse

  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @06:39PM (#30517850)
    Climate scientists don't have a political agenda to "make life painful for businesses".

    Just like the scientists who are asked by an energy company to study something don't have an agenda to kill polar bears... despite what people doubting their credibility seem to continually imply. Right? Hmmm?
  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) * on Monday December 21, 2009 @06:51PM (#30517960) Journal
    First off the coal industry not the oil industry are the main funders for anti-science propoganda (Exxonn have a large stake in both industries). Secondly they are feeding us poison.

    And please the IPCC is not a government in any sense of the word, nobody is trying to take the free market away. The word "market" in "free market" refers to a set of rules for exchanging goods and services (ie: government regulation []). The word "free" refers to the fact you are free to join if you play by the rules.

    People want those rules changed so that unintended side effects such as AGW are minimised. But we have had this converstaion before and despite the wealth of cotra-evidence I don't expect you will change your extreme view of capitalisim that colours most of your posts and blinds you to every other issue.
  • by dan4pres ( 1701162 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @07:51PM (#30518484)
    In a free market, the bad actors would be left to fail. We don't know what would have happened if the failing corporate garbage heaps were not propped up artificially. We were scared into believing the world would end.
  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Monday December 21, 2009 @09:51PM (#30519308) Journal

    False analogy. Those hired by an energy company do have an interest in findings which support the energy company's bottom line, namely that no restrictions on fossil fuel use are necessary. Whether polar bears are killed are incidental to that.

    So, what you are saying is:
    Those hired by politicians via governmental grants do have an interest in findings which support the politicians expansion of power via energy regulation, namely those that control the people and businesses that use energy and the ability to decide which entities the restrictions should apply. Whether businesses are killed are incidental to that.

    If it works one way, it works the other way as well. You can't discredit scientists who work for oil companies who have something to gain unless you discredit scientists who work for governments that have something to gain. That would pretty much eliminate every University, the IPCC and any other UN body.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.