The cascade of global trade to large climate forcing over the Tibetan Plateau glaciers

Kan Yi, Jing Meng, Haozhe Yang, Cenlin He, Daven K. Henze, Junfeng Liu, Dabo Guan, Zhu Liu, Lin Zhang, Xi Zhu, Yanli Cheng, Shu Tao

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Black carbon (BC) aerosols constitute unique and important anthropogenic climate forcers that potentially accelerate the retreat of glaciers over the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau (HTP). Here we show that a large amount of BC emissions produced in India and China—a region of BC emissions to which the HTP is more vulnerable compared with other regions—are related to the consumption of goods and services in the USA and Europe through international trade. These processes lead to a virtual transport pathway of BC from distant regions to the HTP glaciers. From a consumption perspective, the contribution from India to the HTP glaciers shows a rapid increasing trend while the contributions from the USA, Europe, and China decreased over the last decade. International trade aggravates the BC pollution over the HTP glaciers and may cause significant climate change there. Global efforts toward reducing the cascading of BC emissions to Asia, especially the Indian subcontinent, are urgently needed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3281
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2019

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