In a new study, researchers developed a method to help scientists identify a molecule called levoglucosan, which can identify carbonaceous aerosols that came from biomass burning.

The researchers behind the new method, from the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, say their work will enable scientists to spot the molecules produced by burning forests more easily. This will help them understand the history of fires in the region, adding to the picture of how humans are contributing to climate change.

Lead author Chao You, a PhD candidate at the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, explained: "Carbonaceous aerosols can tell the story of biomass burning in a region, helping us understand more about how human activity has shaped glaciers over time. But it’s quite difficult to identify the molecules that tell us when these aerosols were released, so we wanted to come up with a better method to use in Tibet."

This article originally appeared in Talanta, 148, 2016, Pages 534–538. Read more about it here.

Talanta provides a forum for the publication of original research papers, preliminary communications, and critical reviews in all branches of pure and applied analytical chemistry.