Mitigation of Arctic warming by controlling European black carbon emissions (MACEB)

Start year: 2011

End year: 2013

Coordinating beneficiary: Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI)

Contact at FMI: Heikki Lihavainen

Funding: EU LIFE+

Partners: Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI, coordinator), University of Helsinki (UHEL), Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

Arctic temperatures have increased at almost twice the global average rate over the past 100 years. Warming in the arctic has been accompanied by an earlier onset of spring melt, lengthening of the melt season and changes in the mass balance of Greenland ice sheet. The lengthening of the melt season changes the Earth's albedo, a positive feedback effect which leads to further warming. Arctic warming is primarily a manifestation of global warming. Reductions in the atmospheric burden of CO2 are the backbone of any meaningful effort to mitigate climate forcing. But even if swift and deep reductions were made, the reductions may not delay the rapid melting of the Arctic. This is because the long life time of CO2 in the atmosphere. Reductions in the concentration levels of short-lived climate forcing agents, such as black carbon (BC), might be used to slow down the warming of the Arctic environment, to constrain the length of the melting season and thereby to reduce the feedback effects. These short- lived species have the advantage that emission reduction will quickly affect radiative balance of the atmosphere as opposed to reduction of long-lived greenhouse gases. By such reductions, one may potentially buy time for the Arctic environment until CO2 reduction efforts will decrease its atmospheric concentration.

Several studies have been made to link emissions from different areas and abundance of BC in the Arctic areas. Europe was found to be significant source to surface concentration of BC whereas East Asia dominated the sources at higher troposphere. There are still large uncertainties associated with modelling the forcing and temperature response due to BC. This prevents us from providing definitive answers regarding impacts and mitigation strategies. We can, however, use the best available tools to develop a system, by which we can demonstrate where the major gaps in the knowledge are. With the tool developed in this project we can estimate BC concentrations and corresponding radiative forcing over the Arctic areas and link them with the emissions from various areas and sources. This toolbox can be used to analyse different mitigation strategies and to find out the relative contribution of different areas (USA, China, Europe) and countries in Europe to Arctic warming by BC.

Objectives of the MACEB project

The project has three main objectives:

  1. To demonstrate, by implementing the best available tools, the innovative approach to mitigate warming of Arctic climate by black carbon (BC) emissions reduction at mid latitudes, especially at Europe. Arctic areas are expected to suffer most from climate change. Demonstration also identifies knowledge gaps and uncertainties in how BC emissions can be linked with radiative forcing in Arctic areas using current modelling and measurement tools.
  2. To assess the impact of the current air quality and climate relevant legislation in the northern hemisphere on BC emissions, their transport to the Arctic, and eventually Arctic warming and how it relates to warming by CO2. To evaluate an extensive set of mitigation measures targeting BC emissions that could enhance the existing European legislation to increase climate co-benefits of air quality.
  3. To transfer action procedures and experiences to various stakeholders (modelling community, national authorities) within EU by implementing a web portal to assess and mitigate BC emissions from most important source sectors, especially small-scale wood burning.

Key findings

Aerosol emissions from the European countries cause currently a negative top-of-the-atmosphere direct aerosol forcing (cooling effect). The forcing is largest in central Europe and extends to over Arctic.

Compared with the present-day situation, currently agreed policies affecting air pollutant emissions will reduce the aerosol cooling effect (i.e. enhance warming) over both Europe and Arctic areas during the next couple of decades. Less future warming will be expected if emission reductions target emission sources with high share of black carbon. However, the warming will be enhanced even more if maximum technically feasible reductions of air pollutant emissions, especially sulfur dioxide, will be implemented.

There is a significant reduction potential for black carbon emissions with technologies that are currently available. To reach the reductions, technology switch is required that is not substantially promoted by current emission legislation.

It is not possible to reduce the emissions of black carbon alone. From the impact standpoint it is important to analyze the effects of emission reduction technologies and policies to multiple pollutants, i.e., organic carbon and sulfur emissions.

Residential wood combustion is a major source of black carbon emissions in many countries, both in Europe and developing world. In addition to stove technology, user's behavior in the form of stove operation and fuel quality has substantial impact on residential wood combustion emissions. Information campaigns about proper stove operation can be used to influence user's behavior.

Black carbon emissions are at highest in winter and thus their effect on melting of snow and ice is pronounced. This was shown by the ground-based black carbon monitoring at background sites in Finland. The probable reason for this is residential wood combustion.

The largest uncertainties in estimating the climatic effects of black carbon in Arctic areas arise from the difficulties in modeling the efficiency by which black carbon particles are transported from their source areas to the Arctic atmosphere, and in understanding how these particles interact with Arctic clouds.

Happened in the project:

  • Press release in January 2011
  • Kick-off meeting in January 2011
  • Visit of the monitoring team in June 2011
  • Inception report to the European Commission in September 2011
  • Steering group meeting in November 2011
  • Monitoring meeting and project area visit at Pallastunturi in April 2012
  • Visit of the monitoring team on 12 June 2012 (General presentation of project, pdf)
  • Mid-term report to the European Commission in June 2012
  • Press release by IIASA in September 2012
  • Seminar to disseminate better practices of small-scale wood combustion in 9 October 2012 (Presentations in Finnish: Miten asukas voi vaikuttaa puun polton päästöihin?)
  • MACEB demostration workshop in November 2012
  • Steering group meeting in November 2012
  • Monitoring meeting and management board meeting at IIASA, Austria in May 2013
  • The first part of project website is available on 28 June 2013
  • Steering group meeting in October 2013
  • Press release (FMI, SYKE) on 11 November 2013
  • The web portal is open
  • The effects of emissions and emission reductions of black carbon to climate and human health -workshop at FMI on 11 November 2013 (Programme, pdf, in Finnish)
  • Final report (pdf) to the European Commission in March 2014

Presenting the project:

  • Presentation pdf (Niko Karvosenoja, SYKE ja Kaarle Kupiainen, IIASA) at the meeting of NIAM/EC4MACS,  21-22 March 2011 in Laxenburg Austria
  • Presentation Session 4, d (Niko Karvosenoja, SYKE) at the annual TFEIP/EIONET meeting, 2-3 May 2011 in Stockholm
  • Presentation pdf (Antti Hyvärinen, FMI) at Ilmansuojelupäivät, 23-24 August 2011 in Lappeenranta
  • Presentation about domestic wood combustion emissions (Niko Karvosenoja, SYKE) at Municipality Environment Days for local authorities in Southern Finland, 9 November 2011 in Helsinki Finland
  • Poster (Heikki Lihavainen, FMI) at NOSA Aerosol Symposium 2011, 9.-11. November 2011 in Tampere Finland
  • Presentations (1) SLCF in the Arctic; (2) Work on SLCF in Finland (Kaarle Kupiainen, IIASA) at
    Nordic collaboration seminar: The role of the Nordic countries in reducing Short-lived Climate Forcers, SLCF, 15 November 2011 in Stockholm Sweden
  • Four oral presentations about domestic wood combustion (Niko Karvosenoja, Mikko Savolahti, Ville-Veikko Paunu, SYKE; Kaarle Kupiainen, IIASA) have been given in 8th International Conference on Air Quality - Science and Application, 19-23 March 2012 in Athens Greece
  • Master's Thesis of Ville-Veikko Paunu: Emissions of Residential Wood Combustion in Urban and Rural Areas of Finland, Aalto University 2012.
  • Presentation (Heikki Lihavainen, FMI) at AMAP SLCF expert group meeting,15 -16 May 2012 in Helsinki
  • Poster pdf: Soot on Snow 2011 & 2012 (Niku Kivekäs et al., FMI) at Black Carbon - Formation, life cycle, health and climate impacts, policy and response measures - workshop, 18- 20 June 2012 in Lund Sweden
  • Presentation pdf and poster pdf (Niku Kivekäs et al., FMI) about Soot and Snow experiments at European Aerosol Conference EAC-2012, 2-7 September 2012 in Granada Spain.
  • Presentation pdf (Aki Virkkula et al., FMI; UHEL) Field experiments for studying the effects of Soot on Snow in Finland, Davos Atmosphere and Cryosphere Assemby DACA-13, 8.-12 July 2013 in Davos Switzerland



More information

LIFE09 ENV/FI/000572



The web portal

MACEB project leaflet:


Layman's report (pdf)

Final report (pdf)


Dr. Heikki Lihavainen
senior research scientist, project coordinator
Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI)
phone +358 29 539 5492

The project is coordinated by Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI).

The other partners are:
Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
University of Helsinki (UHEL)
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)