Air ‘so polluted it can’t be worsened’: Volume of flights over UK leave atmosphere thick with greenhouse gas
The ozone pollution caused by flights over the UK is among the lowest of any country in the world - but only because the sheer volume of flights to and from the country have already left the atmosphere so thick with the greenhouse gas that it has become relatively much more difficult to generate more of it, a new report finds.
Research into nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions from aircraft reveals that the amount of the ozone greenhouse gas they produce varies considerably from region to region, with flights to and from Australia and New Zealand producing the most.
Ozone is produced when nitrogen dioxide emissions react with sunlight - the other reason why flights over and around the UK are relatively low producers of the gas, which is responsible for climate warming and health hazards such as respiratory problems.
Steven Barrett, lead author of the paper, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said: “Our findings show that the cleanest parts of the atmosphere exhibit the most dramatic response to new emissions,” with the area over the Pacific, around 1,000 kilometres to the east of the Solomon Islands, being the most sensitive.
Emissions of oxides of nitrogen from flights over the Pacific produce 5.1 times as much ozone as an equivalent flight would do over the UK and are 3.7 times higher than for the US. This is because - unlike the UK - there are relatively few flights in the Pacific region, meaning there is proportionately less ozone in the atmosphere. Furthermore, sunlight levels are high.
As a result, 1kg of aircraft emissions over the Pacific creates 15kg of ozone, compared to just 3kg over the UK.
This is the first study to examine the environmental impact of specific flight routes, rather than aviation more generally.
“The places that the sensitivities are highest now are the fastest growing regions in terms of civil aviation growth, so there could potentially be ways to achieve significant reductions in the climate impact of aviation by focussing on re-routing aircraft around the particular regions of the world where ozone formation is highly sensitive to emissions of oxides of nitrogen,” Mr Barrett said.
“Of course, longer flights are going to burn more fuel and emit more CO2, so there will be a trade-off between increasing flight distance and other climate impacts, such as the effect of ozone,” he added.
Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way
Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down
The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Cow 'emissions' more damaging to planet than CO2 from cars
Brazilian wandering spider: Where are they from and how deadly are they?
Dredging can make flooding worse, say activists
The 10 best folding bikes
Saharan sun could provide energy for UK homes in £8bn plan to build 100 sq km solar farm - and a very long power cable
- 1 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 2 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 3 Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...
£22000 - £36000 per annum + MPR / UPR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our cli...
£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...