Strong policies on black carbon can sharply cut glacier melt, says World Bank study



The research report titled “Glaciers of the Himalayas, global climate change , Black Carbon and Regional Resilience” .was released by the world Bank (WB).

Vital Findings  

Scope of Coverage  

  • It covers Himalayas , Karakoram and Hindu Kush (HKHK) mountain ranges.
  • There are almost 55,000 glaciers within the HKHK mountains, and that they store more freshwater “than the other region outside the North and South Poles”.
  • The glaciers contain estimated ice reserves of 163 cubic kilometres, of which just about 80% feeds the Indus, the Ganges and therefore the Brahmaputra.
  • According to the report, glaciers are melting faster than the worldwide average ice mass.
  • The rate of retreat of HKHK glaciers is estimated to be 0.3 metres per annum within the west to 1.0 metre per annum within the east.  

Black Carbon(BC) adds to the impact of global climate change .

Causes:Industry [primarily brick kilns] and residential burning of solid fuel together account for 45–66% of regional anthropogenic [man-made] BC deposition, followed by on-road diesel fuels (7–18%) and open burning (less than 3% altogether seasons)” within the region.


  • Deposits of BC act in two ways hastening the pace of glacier melt:
  • By decreasing surface reflectance of sunlight and by raising air temperature
  • Glacier melt produces flash floods, landslips, erosion , and glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF).
  • In the short run, the upper volumes of melt water could replace receding groundwater downstream. But within the end of the day , decreased water availability would aggravate water shortage.


  • Some of the continued policy measures to chop BC emissions are enhancing fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, phasing out diesel vehicles and promoting electric vehicles, accelerating the utilization of liquefied petroleum gas for cooking and through clean cookstove programmes, also as upgrading brick kiln technologies.
  • However, with all existing measures, water from glacier melt remains projected to extend in absolute volume by 2040, with impacts on downstream activities and communities.

 Way forward


  • Black carbon (BC) deposits produced by act which accelerate the pace of glacier and snow melt within the Himalayan region are often sharply reduced through new, currently feasible policies by a further 50% from current levels.
  • Full implementation of current policies to mitigate BC are able to do a 23% reduction but enacting new policies and incorporating them through regional cooperation among countries are able to do enhanced benefits.
  • Regional integration and collaboration was a method to deal with the question of melting glaciers.  
  • Specifically, within the Himalayas, reducing black carbon emissions from cookstoves, diesel engines, and open burning would have the best impact and will significantly reduce radiative forcing .
  • More detailed modelling at a better spatial resolution is required to expand on the work already completed.
  • It is calling upon regional governments to review policies on water management, with a stress on basin-based regulation and use of price signals for efficiency, careful planning and use of hydropower to reflect changes in water flows and availability, and increasing the efficiency of brick kilns through proven technologies.  
  • There must even be greater knowledge sharing within the region.


Black Carbon

  • Black carbon may be a sort of particulate pollution , produced from incomplete combustion from biomass burning, cooking with solid fuels, and diesel exhaust.
  • The fine particles absorb light and a few million times more energy than CO2 .
  • it's the second-largest contributor to global climate change after CO2. But unlike CO2, which may stay within the atmosphere for years together, black carbon is short-lived and remains within the atmosphere just for days to weeks before it descends as rain or snow.
  • Unlike other greenhouse emission emissions, BC is quickly washed out and may be eliminated from the atmosphere if emissions stop.
  • Black carbon absorbs solar power and warms the atmosphere. When it falls to earth with precipitation, it darkens the surface of snow and ice, reducing their albedo (the reflecting power of a surface), warming the snow, and hastening melting.

Black Carbon Research Initiative  

  • The Black Carbon Research Initiative, under the aegis of the Indian Network of global climate change Assessment, is an effort to deal with gaps in knowledge and answer the crucial question of its impact on global climate change .
  • The initiative comes as focus shifts to think about the contribution of non-green house gas emissions like black carbon to heating ..
  • The Initiative may be a five-year research programme at a price of 200 crore.
  • it's the joint effort of the ministries of environment, earth sciences, science and technology and Isro.  
  • The initiative will undertake an in depth study on the contribution of black carbon to regional warming, effect on cloud formation and monsoons, and its role within the retreat of the Himalayan glacier.



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