Effect of Airplanes on Global Warming

Dr. Katta Murty, a professor of industrial and operations engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said he believes that airplane travel is having a disproportionately large effect on global warming. He based his conclusion on a study he did in collaboration with NASA to compare the pollution airplanes generate with pollution from ground-level vehicles. Using data supplied by North- west Airlines Inc., he calculated that the average flight consumes 17.5 litres of jet fuel per kilometre. A public bus, by contrast, consumes an average of 0.53 litres/km -7.9 times more efficient than a plane. (A private automobile, carrying the U.S. average of 1.2 people, is one-third as fuel-efficient as a public bus.) According to Dr Murty, the impact of plane pollution is probably larger than that from cars and buses. Some of the ground-level gases can be absorbed by plants and trees. In contrast, airplanes re- lease exhaust composed of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water vapour, nitric oxide and ammonia into the “fragile and rarefied” region of the stratosphere. Air density at that height is only about one-sixth that at ground level, so cold gases there may remain in place for several years and form a stable ring of pollution that impedes the flow of energy from the lower atmosphere. According to Dr. Murty, this may help explain why the Earth is experiencing much higher rates of increase in temperature than can be accounted for by the moderate increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as a whole. “The increasing volume of air- plane traffic worldwide has serious environmental consequences, per- haps more serious than the ozone- hole phenomenon which the attention of the scientific community -and the public -is riveted, he said.
source: Planes, Air Pollution and Global Warming See also XlnkS4C4

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