Journal: Nature Communications, vol. 14, 271, 2023
Black carbon emitted by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass has a net warming effect in the atmosphere and reduces the albedo when deposited on ice and snow; accurate knowledge of past emissions is essential to quantify and model associated global climate forcing. Although bottom-up inventories provide historical Black Carbon emission estimates that are widely used in Earth System Models, they are poorly constrained by observations prior to the late 20th century. Here we use an objective inversion technique based on detailed atmospheric transport and deposition modeling to reconstruct 1850 to 2000 emissions from thirteen Northern Hemisphere ice-core records. We find substantial discrepancies between reconstructed Black Carbon emissions and existing bottom-up inventories which do not fully capture the complex spatial-temporal emission patterns. Our findings imply changes to existing historical Black Carbon radiative forcing estimates are necessary, with potential implications for observation-constrained climate sensitivity.