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New report - Measuring Black Carbon in the Arctic Needs to become a Higher Priority

March 11, 2020

Measurements of black carbon (BC) in ambient air are important for quantifying the atmospheric transport and effects of BC, to follow changes in emissions over time and space and to support modelling. This newly released report, prepared by the Norwegian Institute of Air Research (NILU), Norway, was produced as part of the EU funded project on Black Carbon in the Arctic, an initiative aimed at enhancing international cooperation on black carbon policy in the Arctic region and promoting commitments for reducing emissions.

The report reviews the availability and quality of observational BC data in the Arctic region, focusing in particular on long-term temporal datasets from sites operated according to international quality assurance standards. Relevant BC data from short-term campaigns, including observations made from ship, aircraft, and satellite, as well as measurements in snow, are also reviewed. The report concludes that there are very few sites in the Arctic region monitoring BC. Only four sites - Alert (High Arctic, Canada), Summit (Greenland), Barrow (Alaska, USA) and Zeppelin (Svalbard, Norway) currently have long-term (multi-decadal) time series for BC measurements. Additionally, there are large regions of the Arctic where no BC observations are made. The Russian part of the Arctic, in particular, is insufficiently monitored. The report concludes that it is extremely important to maintain the ongoing monitoring at existing sites and increase the number of sites to fill geographical gaps. Another key conclusion identified was the need to measure BC at a high enough quality to ensure data inter-comparability, i.e., to comply with recommendations of World Meteorological Organisation - Global Atmosphere Watch (WMO-GAW) and ACTRIS (European Research Infrastructure for the observation of Aerosol, Clouds and Trace Gases). A final key conclusion is that the reporting of data and the data reviews undertaken by the international databases can be improved. This review is of high relevance to the on-going work under the UNECE Air Convention’s European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP), the Arctic Council (e.g., the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP)) and other international organizations concerned about BC, e.g., WMO-GAW, United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) / Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).

The report is available here