Jet contrails a big global warmer

Air travel has come under fire for its potential contributions to climate change. Most people probably assume that its impact comes through carbon emissions, given that aircraft burn significant amounts of fossil fuel to stay aloft. But the carbon released by air travel remains a relatively minor part of the global output; the impact of planes results from where they burn the fuel, not the mere fact that they burn it.

A study reinforces that by suggesting that the clouds currently being generated by air travel (contrails) have a larger impact on the climate than the cumulative emissions of all aircraft ever flown.

The benefit of this new knowledge is that cutting contrails would make an immediate difference to atmospheric warming, whereas emissions cuts take years to have an effect. Read more here, here or here.

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One Response to “Jet contrails a big global warmer”

  1. mkham11 (@mkham11) Says:

    Actually the effect is the direct opposite- the sulfur in contrails oxidizing to SO2, and freezing in stratospheric cold, is a very effective cooling agent and, according to a NOVA (Dimming the Sun) show, cools the whole Earth 1C from commercial and military aviation. Only high altitude jets have this effect, over 30,000 ft, which only started in 1960 with Boeing 707. They discovered it after 9-11 when the US temps all went up 1C (1.8F) because all planes were grounded. The same thing happens in huge volcanic eruptions: Chichon in 1982, Pinatubo in 1991, which dropped the temps for a year 1 deg.

    Toba 70,000 BCE supposedly dropped the temps for 1000’s of years with 3000 cu km of material blasted in air (near tsunami earthquake, Indonesia) and almost annihilated Man in the depth of the last Ice Age. Only a few males survived (20?) in the Bushmen of the Kalihari and all Homo Sapians came back from them.

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