Tuesday, January 28, 2020

IMO 2020 Low-Sulfur Rules May Result In More Black Carbon Emissions in the Arctic

This could be very not good.
Spreading black carbon on the polar ice caps was one of the geoengineering proposals during the Global Cooling scare of the 1970's. It's also one of the concerns associated with China's coal-fired power plants. (mostly soot, larger diameter than what emerges from VLSFO combustion)
The stuff lands on the ice and reduces the albedo. It also directly absorbs infrared.
Very not good.

From Arctic Today, January 24:

A new study finds IMO’s low-sulphur fuel mandate actually boosts dangerous black carbon emissions in the Arctic
Heavy fuel oil commonly used in shipping is bad for the Arctic. But a switch to low-sulphur fuel appears to be making the problem of black carbon even worse.
The International Maritime Organization has mandated the use of very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) in marine shipping starting January 1, 2020. This regulation is part of IMO’s 2020 program aimed at reducing sulphur emissions from marine transport by 80 percent. In contrast to heavy fuel oil (HFO), which contains up to 3.5 percent sulphur, VLSFO may only contain 0.5 percent.

Less than a month into these rules, a new study funded by Germany and Finland, in cooperation with DNV GL and marine engine manufacturer MAN, indicates that the switch from sulphur-rich HFO to VLSFO may have unintended negative consequences as it can increase black carbon emission by up to 85 percent.

“The results clearly indicate that new blends of marine fuels with 0.5 percent sulphur content can contain a large percentage of aromatic compounds which have a direct impact on black carbon emissions,” the study concludes.

“If immediate action isn’t taken by the International Maritime Organization, the shipping industry’s use of low sulphur shipping fuels (VLSFO) — introduced to comply with the 2020 sulphur cap — will lead to a massive increase in black carbon emissions,” states Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance. 

Black carbon and the Arctic
A number of environmental organizations, including the WWF and Pacific Environment, have submitted briefs to the IMO urging it to implement new rules addressing the black carbon issue as soon as possible.

“This is an extremely urgent matter, especially for the Arctic as black carbon emissions occurring there have a disproportionately larger impact on Arctic warming. At a time when ship traffic in the Arctic is increasing, it is vital that immediate actions be taken,” affirms Jim Gamble, Arctic Program Director at Pacific Environment, an environmental organization....MUCH MORE
A report from Bellona in January 2019 mentioned soot from heavy fuel oil: "Russian port data show huge increases in Arctic shipping":
...But one toxic byproduct of all this activity is the soot produced by huge freighters steaming through the Arctic sea passage, many of which are operating on heavy fuel oil, or HFO, a carbon intensive and polluting energy source. Exhaust from this fuel coats Arctic ice in a blackish film, making it more vulnerable to withering solar radiation and contributing to the overall polar melt....
And the concerns go back years:

October 2007
NASA Examines Arctic Sea Ice Changes Leading to Record Low in 2007
...The findings appear in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It is authored by Makiko Sato, James Hansen and others from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and Columbia University, New York; Oleg Dubovik, Brent Holben and Mian Chin of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; and Tica Novakov, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif.
New research from NASA scientists suggests emissions of black soot alter the way sunlight reflects off snow. According to a computer simulation, black soot may be responsible for 25 percent of observed global warming over the past century.

Soot in the higher latitudes of the Earth, where ice is more common, absorbs more of the sun's energy and warmth than an icy, white background. Dark-colored black carbon, or soot, absorbs sunlight, while lighter colored ice reflects sunlight.

Soot in areas with snow and ice may play an important role in climate change. Also, if snow- and ice-covered areas begin melting, the warming effect increases, as the soot becomes more concentrated on the snow surface. "This provides a positive feedback (i.e. warming); as glaciers and ice sheets melt, they tend to get even dirtier," said Dr. James Hansen, a researcher at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York. Source
From the BBC:
Soot 'makes global warming worse'
The effects of soot in changing the climate are more than most scientists acknowledge, two US researchers say
Shh. Don't want to piss the Chinese off.

China Soot Heating Pacific Ocean
There may be an unexpected sooty surcharge on all those cheap Chinese imports, say atmospheric scientists. The carbon soot from China is warming and polluting the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean and all the way to North America, according to a new study. 
MORE from the Discovery Channel
"Some days we can definitely tell that the air has come from China," said Kim Holmen, research director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, at the station which has spectacular views over fjords, mountains and glaciers of Spitsbergen island....Source
Just for grins and giggle I included an early report on global warming's impact on the Arctic:
"It will without doubt have come to your Lordship's knowledge that a considerable change of climate, inexplicable at present to us, must have taken place in the Circumpolar Regions, by which the severity of the cold that has for centuries past enclosed the seas in the high northern latitudes in an impenetrable barrier of ice has been during the last two years, greatly abated.

(This) affords ample proof that new sources of warmth have been opened and give us leave to hope that the Arctic Seas may at this time be more accessible than they have been for centuries past, and that discoveries may now be made in them not only interesting to the advancement of science but also to the future intercourse of mankind and the commerce of distant nations."

—President of the Royal Society, London, to the Admiralty, 20th November, 1817
President of the Royal Society, Minutes of Council, Volume 8. pp.149-153, Royal Society, London.
20th November, 1817.