China based Zhejiang University’s scientists have reported in their study that the percentage of tarballs has increased in the Himalayan region and this is increasing the glacial melt in the region.

What are Brown Carbon ‘Tarballs’?

  • Brown Carbon Tarballs are capable of absorbing even small light, carbonaceous particle formed due to the burning fossil fuels and biomass.
  • It deposit and ice and snow, increases their light absorbing capability that hastens the glacial melting.
  • They are formed from brown carbon, emitted during the burning of fossil fuels.
  • The median size Brown Carbon tarballs found in the Himalayan Glaciers were of size 213 nanometres and 348 nanometres.

Why the increase?

Zhejiang University study reveals that this is mainly due to wheat residue burning in the Indo-Gangetic plains. Brown Carbon Tarballs are being carried by the wind and it emitted along with black carbon.

Tarballs in Oceans

It formed in oceans as well. In the ocean, Tarballs are formed from the crude oil floating in the water. They are transported from open sea to the shores by sea currents. They were usually coin sized earlier. However, in the recent years, they have become big as basket balls and are weighing 6kg to 7kg. In Himalayas too, their sizes are increasing slowly.

How are Tarballs harmful to ocean?

Tarballs get stuck to the fishing nets installed in the sea, it makes difficult for the fishermen to fish. Also, they are major concern to the global marine ecosystem.

Earlier Tarball Cases

They are difficult to break down but it travels hundreds of miles in sea and also by wind as in Himalayas. In 2010, Tarball occurrences were witnessed in Goa beaches. In 2019, they were found in Mumbai’s Juhu beach.

Major Glaciers in India

  • Milam Glacier in Trishul peak of Pithoragarh of Uttarakhand
  • Gangotri Glacier in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand
  • Zemu Glacier is the largest glacier in Eastern Himalayas. It is located on Kanchenjunga peak in Sikkim.
  • Pindari Glacier in Nanda Devi, Uttarakhand

Tarballs fastening Himalayan Glacial melting Tarballs fastening Himalayan Glacial melting