Friday, 21 February 2020

Soot from the start of industrial revolution in Europe at top of the Himalayas?

Pollution from industrial revolution, Europe in the Himalayas.
Can you imagine that soot produced during the industrial revolution  in England  was transported as far as 10300 km by winter wind (blowing west to east) and settled on the upper reaches of the Himalayan glacier in Tibet roughly 240 year ago? It is quite apparent that humans  had contaminated the clean upper reaches of the Himalayan mountain peaks  far before they ever stepped foot on them. Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing Norgay were the first one to have reached the top of Mt. Everest on 29 May 1953. Earlier  in June 1924 expedition to Everest George Mallory and
soot pollution from industry.
his team successfully reached the upper levels, but short of reaching the highest peak; it ended in tragedy. 
The first summit of Shishapangma, at 8,027 meters (26,335 feet) took place in 1964 hundreds of years after the contamination first appeared. Now the selected routes to the peak  in the Himalayas are full of trash of various types and tons of  human waste, and the Nepal govt. spends  lots of money to  dispose of  them including dangerous plastics and metal containers from the mountains.
An analysis of ice cores drilled from the Dasuopu glacier in the central Himalayas shows  traces of toxic metals, by-products of burning coal, embedded in the sample’s layers. By  sifting the timeline of the ice core, the researchers have dated the earliest contamination to the end of the 18th century - the start of the Industrial Revolution.
The results of the study were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The team from Ohio State University, USA  studied an ice core collected in 1997 from the glacier located on Shishapangma, the world’s 14th tallest mountain. Surprisingly core  samples revealed the hidden clues  about the snowfall, atmospheric circulation, and other environmental changes in time. The detailed analysis of layers in the core  helped the researchers to  arrive at the past event  and its time with considerable accuracy.  The  layers in the ice core appeared  to have been formed between 1499 and 1992. They also found a total of 23 trace metals whose concentration was  higher-than-natural levels of cadmium, chromium, nickel, and zinc during the period from 1780.  When they traced the bottom of the source and the period they  arrived at the conclusion that the contamination was caused by the burning of coal –an important  energy source in the European  industry during the late 18th century, and throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
According to
Paolo Gabrielli, lead author of the study and research scientist at The Ohio State University Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, the Industrial Revolution was a revolution in the use of energy,” “... the use of coal combustion also started to cause emissions that we think were transported by winds up to the Himalayas.” The ice core samples were from the Dasuopu drilling site, 7,200 meters (23,600 feet) above sea-level. 

Tracing the additional  cause of the metal contamination at the world’s highest drilling site at 23,600 feet above sea level), the study identified the source and  concluded: “What happens is at that time, in addition to the Industrial Revolution, the human population exploded and expanded,” Gabrielli  further stated,  “... so there was a greater need for agricultural fields — and, typically, the way they got new fields was to burn forests.” The presence of
of zinc, released when trees are burnt, was an indication  that the forests were  cleared for agriculture and housing purposes.

The study differentiates  the discernible difference between “contamination” and “pollution”.“The levels of metals we found were higher than what would exist naturally, but were not high enough to be acutely toxic or poisonous,” Gabrielli said. “However, in the future, bio-accumulation may concentrate metals from meltwater at dangerous toxic levels in the tissues of organisms that live in ecosystems below the glacier.”

The University of Ohio  team already  found further evidence of human  activities causing atmospheric pollution as revealed by the recent study in 2015.
  The air was polluted before industrial revolution in South America due to silver mining in Peru
The interesting fact is the human activities took place at different time spans in different parts of the globe and are frozen in the layers of rock or ice cores.