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.
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?
Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent
"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier
Striker's four-month ban for biting an opponent expires on Friday
Brazilian wandering spider: Where are they from and how deadly are they?
Government ‘allowing coal industry to get green subsidies’
The guilty secrets of palm oil: Are you unwittingly contributing to the devastation of the rain forests?
Saharan sun could provide energy for UK homes in £8bn plan to build 100 sq km solar farm - and a very long power cable
The 'vampire squid': RSPB attacked by other conservationists for 'misusing funds'
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...
£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education have cover su...
£50 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Teaching Assistants/LSAAre you a T...
£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Female PE Teacher Required - Hum...