Thursday July 18, 2019

Airplane Contrails- Major Cause of Global Warming; to Triple the Impact on Climate by 2050

In 2005, air traffic made up about five per cent of all anthropogenic radiative forcing, with contrails being the largest contributor to aviation's climate impact

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airplane contrails, global warming
File: Contrails of KLM Boeing 747-400 over Khimki 22-Oct-2011. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have found that contrails – the white lines that airplanes leave behind in the sky – are a major cause of global warming and their impact on the climate was expected to triple by 2050.

The study, published on Thursday in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, found that due to increased air traffic activity, contrail-induced warming was expected to be thrice larger in 2050 than what it was in 2006.

Contrails change global cloudiness which creates an imbalance in the Earth’s radiation budget – called radiative forcing – that results in warming of the planet. The larger this radiative forcing, the more significant the climate impact.

Noting that non-carbon dioxide climate impacts could not be neglected, researchers said that the increase was predicted to be faster than the rise in carbon dioxide radiative forcing since expected fuel efficiency measures would reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

airplane contrails, global warming
In 2005, air traffic made up about five per cent of all anthropogenic radiative forcing, with contrails being the largest contributor to aviation’s climate impact. Pixabay

The increase in contrail radiative forcing was due to air traffic growth and a shift of flight routes to higher altitudes. According to researchers, cleaner aircraft emissions would solve part of the problem. In 2005, air traffic made up about five per cent of all anthropogenic radiative forcing, with contrails being the largest contributor to aviation’s climate impact.

ALSO READ: Yoga Can Help the World in Fighting Climate Change, Fostering Global Harmony: UN

“It is important to recognise the significant impact of non-carbon dioxide emissions such as contrails on climate and to take those effects into consideration when setting up emission trading systems or schemes like the Corsia agreement,” said the study’s lead author Lisa Bock from the German Aerospace Center.

Corsia – UN’s scheme to offset air traffic carbon emissions from 2020 – ignores the non-carbon dioxide climate impacts of aviation. (IANS)

Next Story

Great Barrier Reef Facing Unprecedented Challenges Amid Serious Ecological Disturbances

In light of the report, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia called for urgent climate change action

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great barrier reef
"The Great Barrier Reef is still beautiful and it is resilient, but it is facing unprecedented challenges," AIMS Chief Executive Officer Paul Hardisty said. Wikimedia Commons

The health of Australias Great Barrier Reef is facing unprecedented challenges amid serious ecological disturbances, a report released on Thursday said. Crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks — which have decimated breeding populations of corals over large areas — coral bleaching and cyclones were among the “major disturbances” in the past five years that have caused a general decline in coral cover in the world’s largest living organism, Efe news quoted the report by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) as saying.

“The Great Barrier Reef is still beautiful and it is resilient, but it is facing unprecedented challenges,” AIMS Chief Executive Officer Paul Hardisty said. The report added that chronic stressors such as high turbidity, higher ocean temperatures and changing ocean chemistry affect recovery rates and more frequent disturbances shorten periods of recovery time.

“We know reefs can recover given time and the right conditions, but there has been little relief from disturbances in recent years to allow significant recovery to occur,” AIMS Long Term Monitoring Program leader and ecologist Mike Emslie said.

great barrier reef
In light of the report, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia called for urgent climate change action. Wikimedia Commons

The decline was measured in the central and southern areas of the reef, while the northern region has stabilized. In light of the report, the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia called for urgent climate change action. “Australia must urgently reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and rapidly speed up the transition to a renewable economy,” WWF-Australia Head of Oceans Richard Leck said.

ALSO READ: Global Warming Threatens UN Goals of Tackling Inequality, Conflicts

Last month, a Change.org campaign was launched to push for citizenship for the Great Barrier Reef. The petition demands the reef be given rights akin to that of humans, including the right to health, freedom from torture or inhuman treatment or punishment, the right to maintain own means of subsistence and the right to life.

The Great Barrier Reef, home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 varieties of molluscs, began to deteriorate in the 1990s due to the double impact of water warming and increased acidity due to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (IANS)