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For Planes, a Climate Antidote: Bypass the Arctic


Science & Tech  (tags: climate, climate-change, climatechange, CO2emissions, destruction, conservation, environment, globalwarming, globalwarming, science, research, world, water, oceans, pollution, protection, nature, technology, business, consumers, corporate, ethics, money )

JL
- 752 days ago - green.blogs.nytimes.com
Air traffic is the biggest source of pollution in the Arctic. Ever since cross-polar flights became commonplace in the late 1990s, flights crossing the Arctic Circle have risen steadily, surpassing 50,000 in 2010.



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JL A. (276)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 4:02 pm

Green - Energy, the Environment and the Bottom Line
December 3, 2012, 2:04 pm
For Planes, a Climate Antidote: Bypass the Arctic
By JOANNA M. FOSTER

This year Arctic sea ice reached a historic low, breaking a record set in 2007 by a whopping 18 percent. Researchers suggest that the ice could disappear entirely in as little as two or three decades. That would accelerate the warming of the planet, given that dark solar-energy-absorbing ocean water would replace a surface of bright white ice, which reflects sunlight back into space.

Air traffic is the biggest source of pollution in the Arctic. Ever since cross-polar flights became commonplace in the late 1990s, flights crossing the Arctic Circle have risen steadily, surpassing 50,000 in 2010.

While cross-polar flights account for only a tiny percent of total global emissions from aviation, the standard cruising altitude for commercial planes in the Arctic is the stratosphere, an extremely stable layer of the atmosphere. Black carbon and other emissions get trapped in this layer and as a result remain in the atmosphere longer, causing far more damage than emissions from flights at lower latitudes, scientists say.

But with some creative detours, airlines can buy a little more time for Arctic sea ice, a new study suggests.

Writing in the journal Climatic Change, Mark Jacobson, an atmospheric scientist at Stanford University, and other researchers report that rerouting planes around the Arctic Circle could help delay the advent of a tipping point after which the ice would eventually disappear.

The research team gathered emissions data from 40,399 cross-polar flights in 2006 and used computer simulations to compare what would happen over the next 22 years if those flights skirted the Arctic rather than following their current routes.

Using these less direct flight paths would increase commercial planes' total fuel use by 0.056 percent, their calculations suggest. But global surface temperatures would dip by by nearly three-hundredths of a degree Fahrenheit (0.015 degrees Celsius), they wrote. That's because the emissions would predominantly be dumped in less stable areas of the atmosphere, where precipitation washes out pollutants, especially black carbon.

Rerouting flights to save the Arctic sea ice would cost about $99 million a year in additional fuel and operational costs globally, the scientists reported. But the climatic savings from avoiding the increase in temperature would be 47 to 55 times that amount for the United States alone by 2025.

Ultimately, Dr. Jacobson warns, the aviation industry will need to make more drastic changes than skirting the Arctic."Aircraft traffic is on the rise, so it's not like the problem will go away by itself," he said.

"We have three options here -- move pollution sources away from sensitive areas like the Arctic; reduce emissions from current fuels, although less of one pollutant usually results in more of another; or we need to change airplane technology so that you don't use fossil fuels anymore," Dr. Jacobson said

This third option, which could involve switching to something like cryogenic hydrogen fuel, "is the only one which isn't just a temporary fix," he said. "Industry doesn't want to spend the money, but in the end we will have to go there -- it's just a question of how much damage we inflict before we make the switch."
 

Terry V. (30)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 4:35 pm
We are MURDERING our planet, is that a problem? JEEZ......

Earth Cry

Planet Earth is Dying

Eve of Destruction
 

JL A. (276)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 4:59 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Terry because you have done so within the last week.
 

Kit B. (276)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 6:36 pm

That is good news and add to that better use of fuels and I wish less air travel and we might begin to see some needed changes.
 

JL A. (276)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 6:47 pm
It seems to be a simpler approach than most that could be implemented virtually overnight, Kit. You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.
 

Michael Kirkby (86)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 6:56 pm
every little bit helps
 

JL A. (276)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 7:21 pm
Indeed it does Michael You cannot currently send a star to Michael because you have done so within the last week.
 

John B. (122)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 7:41 pm
Well, it's a start. Much more needs to be done but this is a step in the right direction. Thanks J.L. for the post. Read and noted.
 

JL A. (276)
Tuesday December 4, 2012, 7:54 pm
You are welcome John. Every step helps create momentum. You cannot currently send a star toJohn because you have done so within the last week.
 

Bob P. (421)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 5:03 am
thanks for the info JL
 

JL A. (276)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 7:41 am
You are welcome Bob.
 

Christeen Anderson (554)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 1:36 pm
This is a very forward step. Thank you. Please keep up the good work.
 

JL A. (276)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 2:18 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Christeen because you have done so within the last week.
 

Sergio Padilla (62)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 2:31 pm
Thanks
 

JL A. (276)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 2:59 pm
You are welcome Sergio.
 

Lois Jordan (58)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 4:43 pm
Noted. This would be an enormous undertaking for the airlines and would probably need federal subsidies as well as new technology. Many airline CEO's are already crying about their "bottom lines" and trying to con unions into less wages while continuing to put massive amounts in their own accounts. They're not going to initiate this out of the goodness of their hearts.
 

JL A. (276)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 4:52 pm
Good points Lois! You cannot currently send a star to Lois because you have done so within the last week.
 

greenplanet e. (157)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 5:08 pm
I guess we should have less air travel anyway to cut emissions.
 

JL A. (276)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 5:16 pm
You cannot currently send a star to greenplanet because you have done so within the last week.
 

SusanAWAY Allen (219)
Thursday December 6, 2012, 5:52 pm
Anything that can be done, should be done. It's hard to believe air travel keeps increasing. I hate flying. I'm sure they will pass the cost along to the consumer and people flying should be willing to foot the bill a bit, but the airlines should also pay their part and the government should pay a part as well. Global warming is going to kill the planet if we don't start doing something and anything little thing that can be done should be done.
 

Suzanne L. (142)
Friday December 7, 2012, 7:55 am
Far too much going on (or over) both poles.
 

Past Member (0)
Saturday December 8, 2012, 5:28 am
Thanks, interesting article.
 

JL A. (276)
Saturday December 8, 2012, 8:54 am
You're right Suzanne and Susan.
You are welcome John.
 
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