Back before the age of emissions regulations or the technology to do anything about them anyway, new factories and power plants sprung up and dumped huge amounts of black soot into the air on a daily basis. Then, prevailing winds swept the soot away and dumped it off elsewhere. Where? Apparently, in the arctic for one. Ice samples reveal that huge amounts of pollution and black soot were deposited in Greenland, and researchers believe that the soot is from North America. The data shows that the soot started piling up between 1880 and the 1950's, which makes sense as this is when the first Industrial Revolution was merging into the second, and was in full swing in America.

The soot found in the ice is mostly carbon and absorbs heat from the sun, causing the ice to melt at a higher rate. It is good to reflect on the fact that not all the soot comes from burning fossil-fuels, some of it is from forest fires. But, the fact is that a seven-fold increase was detected starting around 1880, and forest fires are almost certainly not to blame for that. This might be another reminder that humans can indeed have a huge impact on their environment.

[Source: NSF via Physorg]


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