Skip to main content

An insight into aviation emissions and their impact on the atmosphere

Image credit: El Ronzo, Flickr
The proliferation of aviation has brought about huge benefits to our society, enhancing global economic prosperity and allowing humanity to travel faster, further and more frequently than ever before. However, the relentless expansion of the industry is a major detriment to the environment on a local, regional and global level. This is due to the vast amounts of pollution produced from the jet fuel combustion process, that is required to propel aircraft through the air and to sustain steady level flight.

Aircraft impact the climate largely through the release of CO2, which results in a direct contribution to the greenhouse effect, absorbing terrestrial radiation and trapping heat within the atmosphere, leading to rising temperatures. However, it is also vital not to overlook the non-CO2 aircraft emissions such as NOx, soot and water vapour, which result in alternative climate change mechanisms – the indirect greenhouse effect, the direct aerosol effect and aviation induced cloudiness. When accounting for these non-CO2 effects, it can be assumed that the climate impact is doubled or tripled compared to that of CO2 alone.

This report provides the necessary background information to grasp the science behind aircraft emissions and delves into the impacts aviation has on the atmosphere’s ability to cleanse itself of harmful emissions, otherwise known as the oxidising capacity of the atmosphere. It does so through an analysis of three distinct and commonly flown flight routes, investigating the impact that each flight’s emissions have on the surrounding atmospheric chemistry and discusses the potential effects this has on our Earth-atmosphere system.

Read the full report by Kieran Tait

------------------------------
Read our other blogs about air travel:

  1. To fly or not to fly? Towards a University of Bristol approach
  2. I won't fly to your conference, but I hope you will still invite me to participate
Watch our latest video on air travel at the Univeristy of Bristol.



Popular posts from this blog

Powering the economy through the engine of Smart Local Energy Systems

How can the Government best retain key skills and re-skill and up-skill the UK workforce to support the recovery and sustainable growth? This summer the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) requested submission of inputs on Post-Pandemic Economic Growth. The below thoughts were submitted to the BEIS inquiry as part of input under the EnergyREV project . However, there are points raised here that, in the editing and summing up process of the submission, were cut out, hence, this blog on how the UK could power economic recovery through Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES). 1. Introduction: Factors, principles, and implications In order to transition to a sustainable and flourishing economy from our (post-)COVID reality, we must acknowledge and address the factors that shape the current economic conditions. I suggest to state the impact of such factors through a set of driving principles for the UK’s post-COVID strategy. These factors are briefly explained belo

IncrEdible! How to save money and reduce waste

The new academic year is a chance to get to grips with managing your student loan and kitchen cupboards. Over lockdown the UK wasted a third less food than we usually would. This is brilliant, as normally over 4.5 million tonnes of edible food is wasted from UK homes every year. For students, it’s even higher. The average cost of food waste per student per week is approximately £5.25 - that's about £273 per year !  It’s not just our bank accounts that are affected by food waste – it’s our planet too. The process of growing, making, distributing, storing and cooking our food uses masses of energy, fuel and water. It generates 30% of the world’s CO₂ greenhouse gas emissions. The same amount of CO₂ as 4.6 million return flights from London to Perth, Australia! So it makes sense to keep as much food out of the bin as possible, start wasting less and saving more.  Start the new term with some food waste busting, budget cutting, environment loving habits! Here’s five easy ways to reduce

Farming in the Páramos of Boyacá: industrialisation and delimitation in Aquitania

Labourers harvest ‘cebolla larga’ onion in Aquitania. Image credit: Lauren Blake. In October and November 2019 Caboteer  Dr Lauren Blake  spent time in Boyacá, Colombia, on a six-week fieldtrip to find out about key socio-environmental conflicts and the impacts on the inhabitants of the páramos, as part of the historical and cultural component of her research project, POR EL Páramo . Background information about the research can be found in the earlier blog on the project website . Descending down the hill in the bus from El Crucero, the pungent smell of cebolla larga onion begins to invade my nose. The surrounding land transforms into plots of uniform rows of onion tops at various stages of growth, some mostly brown soil with shoots poking out along the ridges, others long, bushy and green. Sandwiched between the cloud settled atop the mountainous páramos and the vast, dark blue-green Lake Tota, all I can see and all I can smell is onion production. Sprinklers are scattered around, dr