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Air travel in the tropics is worse for climate

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  • Potter at Island Resources
    from the NewScientist Environment page
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2008
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      from the NewScientist Environment page



      for the slow typist


      Air travel in the tropics is worse for climate

      * 02 July 2008
      * NewScientist.com news service


      Want to salve your conscience and offset your holiday carbon
      emissions? You might want to rethink that trip to the tropics. A
      typical flight there has a greater impact on global warming than a
      flight in temperate latitudes.

      As well as producing carbon dioxide and contrails, planes also
      produce nitrogen oxide, which triggers both the creation of the
      warming gas ozone, and the destruction of another greenhouse gas,
      methane (Journal of Geophysical Research, DOI: 10.1029/2007/JD009140).

      In mid-latitudes, these ozone and methane reactions cancel each other
      out and you get zero net warming from nitrogen oxide emissions, says
      Keith Shine of the University of Reading, UK. But the brighter
      sunlight in the tropics is very efficient at converting nitrogen
      oxide to ozone - in fact it creates ozone five times faster than in
      the air of mid-latitudes, according to Shine's calculations - whereas
      methane destruction only increases marginally. Worryingly, the
      warming effects of ozone are particularly strong at a plane's typical
      cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, he adds.

      The research raises the question of whether future attempts to
      control aircraft emissions should consider EXTRA PENALTIES FOR
      FLIGHTS IN TROPICAL COUNTRIES where air travel is booming. India, for
      instance, has the fastest growing airline fleet in the world.

      ON CURBING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS. But the European Union has plans
      to control aircraft emissions from 2011.
      Related Articles

      * Look, no carbon footprint!
      * http://environment.newscientist.com/article/mg19325941.800
      * 09 March 2007
      * Green sky thinking: eight ways to a cleaner flying future
      * http://environment.newscientist.com/article/mg19325921.600
      * 22 February 2007


      * Journal of Geophysical Research
      * http://www.agu.org/journals/jd/

      From issue 2662 of New Scientist magazine, 02 July 2008, page 6

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