Reading: Black Carbon in the Atmosphere

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A reading that describes the effects of black carbon on the atmosphere and the climate system. This reading by Carl Zimmer for the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies details the albedo effect of black carbon, how it affects cloud formation, and its warming and cooling effects of the Earth’s surface.

Students will learn that black carbon is potentially second only to carbon dioxide in its heat trapping power. They will also learn about how it affects the Earth’s climate system. Students will further understand the complexities of black carbon emissions and why only certain emissions cause an increase in Earth’s temperature.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to: 

  1. What is black carbon? 
  2. What are some of the effects of black carbon on clouds? 
  3. Discuss how the deposition of black carbon on ice caps affects the melting of ice?
  4. Explain how black carbon can have a cooling or warming effect on the planet?

About the tool

Tool NameBlack Carbon and Warming: It’s Worse than We Thought
Topic(s) in DisciplineCarbon Chemistry, Allotropy, Allotropes of carbon, Black Carbon, Greenhouse Gas
Climate Topic Climate and the Atmosphere; Greenhouse Effect
Type of tool Reading
Grade LevelHigh School, Undergraduate
Developed byCarl Zimmer, The New York Times
Hosted atYale Environment 360 (E360), Yale School of  Environment, Website
Computer SkillsBasic
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