Mis à jour le 07/07/22

Black Carbon (BC; or soot) is the product of incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels and biomass, and is co-emitted with other aerosols. BC and co-emitted aerosols make up the majority of fine particle air pollution, and is the leading environmental cause of poor health and premature death. BC also impacts climate by: (i) exerting a direct net positive radiative forcing at the top-of-the atmosphere equivalent to ~40% of the current radiative forcing due to the CO2 greenhouse effect, (ii) influencing cloud formation/properties and rainfall patterns, and (iii) reducing the albedo of the cryosphere when deposited on ice and snow, hence increasing melting rate. Owing to its impacts on health and climate, BC is receiving growing attention. Another impact of BC, much less known than its direct impacts on health and climate, is related to its introduction in the ocean. The atmospheric lifetime of BC ranges from a few days to one month, and BC eventually deposits on the surface of lands and oceans. In addition to the direct deposition on the surface of the ocean, large amounts of BC deposited on land are washed out by rainfall and transported by rivers, hence ultimately ending up in the ocean.

Soot Sea logo

© GDRI-Sud Soot Sea

The estimated total flux of BC to the ocean via atmospheric deposition and fluvial transport is equivalent to the estimated emission rate. Considering that most BC ends up in the ocean, it is important to understand how this material impacts marine systems. Because BC particles are highly porous and surface-active, with a high density, they can sorb dissolved compounds, increase aggregation processes and ballast sinking particulate organic matter. Because they bring nutrients and contaminants to the surface ocean, and modify the structuring of the environment at the microscale, BC may alter phyto- and bacterio-plankton composition and activity. As a result, BC may alter the efficiency of the biological carbon pump, and lead to either a positive or a negative feedback on the atmospheric concentration of CO2. In addition, BC can sorb contaminants in seawater and either introduce them into the food chain, hence alter food security, or export them to the seafloor, hence cleanse the water column. In order to determine the actual impacts of BC, it is necessary to obtain accurate emission and deposition rates. At present, there are still large uncertainties related to the magnitude of the impact of atmospheric BC due to difficulties in obtaining accurate emission inventories, and in particular in South East Asia (SEA). For example, current climate models systematically underrate aerosol absorption by 3-fold when compared to observations, which is attributed to the underestimation of BC emissions. Since estimates of the atmospheric flux of BC to the ocean are derived from emission estimates, they may be underestimated as well. In order to determine the effects of BC on marine resources and biogeochemistry, it is also necessary to understand how BC interacts with biological/chemical/physical marine processes. Owing to its short residence time in the atmosphere, atmospheric BC is currently considered a short-lived climate/health forcer. In contrast, because BC in the ocean will last for millennia, and its impacts on carbon cycling in the ocean can have long-lasting feedbacks on climate and marine biogeochemistry, marine BC may act as a long-lived climate/ecosystem forcer. SOOT-SEA seeks to stimulate research, innovation, observation and capacity-building activities related to the impacts of BC on climate, health and ecosystem, taking into account for the first time its marine dimension, by increasing interactions between scientists from the South and the North.

The objectives of this multidisciplinary IRN, which addresses a major societal, health and environmental issue, are:

  • (i) to promote and structure the development of research on BC, considering both atmospheric and marine dimensions in SEA (Figure below),
  • (ii) to create the conditions for the establishment of a monitoring network of the concentrations and characteristics of atmospheric, fluvial and marine BC at the regional scale,
  • (iii) to inform the general public and assist decision makers with regard to the intricate health, climate and ecosystem BC-issues.

SOOT-SEA is organized around a targeted theme (following a common thread), calling for interdisciplinarity between atmospheric and marine sciences, and bridging intertwined climate, ecosystems and health issues.

  • Partners
    • Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), Institute of Marine Environment and Resources (IMER) Vietnam
    • Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), University of Science and Technology of Hanoi (USTH) Vietnam
    • Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), Institute Of Physics (IOP) Vietnam
    • Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), Institute of Natural Product Chemistry (INPC) Vietnam
    • Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), Institute of Environmental Technology (IET) Vietnam
    • Hanoi University of Science (HUS), Department of Marine Science and Technology (MST) Vietnam
    • Hanoi University of Science (HUS), Center for Environmental Fluid Dynamics (CEFD) Vietnam
    • Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), School of Environment Resources and Development (SERD) Thailand
    • Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), Department of Environmental Science (DES) Cambodia
    • Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), Pollution Control Department (PCD) Laos
    • Environment Quality Management (EQM) Myanmar
  • Research Units involved


    • UMR265 (IRD/CNRS/AMU/UTLN), Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO) France
    • UMR5560 (CNRS/UPS), Laboratory of Aerology (LA) France
    • UMR8518 (CNRS/Univ. Lille), Laboratoire d'Optique Atmosphérique (LOA) France
    • UMR5566 (CNRS/IRD/UPS/CNES), Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS) France
    • UMR8214 (CNRS/UP-S), Institut des Sciences Moléculaires d’Orsay (ISMO) France
    • UMR8212 (CNRS/CEA/UVSQ), Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE) France
    • UMR5254 (CNRS/UPPA), Institut Pluridisciplinaire de Recherche sur l'Environnement et les Matériaux (IPREM) France
    • UMR7266 (CNRS/Univ-LR), Littoral Environnement et Sociétés (LIENSs) France
    • UMR7093 (CNRS/UPMC), Laboratory of Oceanography of Villefranche (LOV) France
    • Association de surveillance de la qualité de l'air (AirParif) France


    • University of Oldenburg (UO), Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM) Germany
    • Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Dept. of Experimental Limnology (DEL) Germany
    • University of Liege (ULIEGE), Chemical Oceanography Unit (COU) Belgium
    • Technical University of Denmark (DTU), National Institute for Aquatic Resources (Aqua) Denmark
    • University of Vienna (UWIEN), Department of Limnology and Bio-Oceanography (LIMBO) Austria
    • Swansea University (SU), Department of Biosciences (Biosci) UK
    • National Research Council of Italy (CNR), Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis (IMAA) Italy
    • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Environment Laboratories (EL) Monaco


  • Scientific coordinator
  • Scientific disciplines

    Atmospheric and marine chemistry; Marine biogeochemistry; Element (carbon) cycling; Particle transport in the atmosphere and the ocean; Atmosphere-Ocean interactions; Climate change; Health; Organic and inorganic contaminants; Ecotoxicology; Trophic web; Atmospheric, fluvial and marine pollution

  • Keywords

    Black Carbon, Climate, Health, Ecosystem, South East Asia

Période 2018 - 2022