Air traffic poised to become a major factor in global warming

May 26, 2010
Airplanes, a source of carbon dioxide emissions, are poised to become a major factor in global warming in the future. Credit: iStock

The first new projections of future aircraft emissions in 10 years predicts that carbon dioxide and other gases from air traffic will become a significant source of global warming as they double or triple by 2050. The study is in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology.

Bethan Owen and colleagues note that aviation is not now one of the main drivers of global warming, with international aviation (source of 60 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft) not even included in the Kyoto Protocol. Global currently contributes to between 2 and 3 percent of carbon dioxide emissions — the main "greenhouse" gas linked to .

The scientists' computer model forecast that emissions of carbon dioxide will likely double or triple within the next 50 years. By 2100, emissions could increase by up to seven times the current levels, they say. "Even though there have been significant improvements in fuel efficiency through aircraft technology and operational management, this has been outweighed by the increase in air traffic," the study states.

Explore further: U.S. greenhouse emissions up 1.7 percent

More information: "Flying into the Future: Aviation Emissions Scenarios to 2050", Environmental Science & Technology.

Related Stories

China to surpass U.S. emissions levels

November 7, 2006

The International Energy Agency says China will surpass the United States in carbon dioxide emissions by 2009, about a decade ahead of previous predictions.

Oceans could slurp up carbon dioxide to fight global warming

November 19, 2007

Researchers in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are proposing a new method for reducing global warming that involves building a series of water treatment plants that enhance the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide ...

Pricing can cut CO2 emissions from electric generators

April 28, 2008

Levying a price on carbon dioxide released by electric generators could considerably reduce greenhouse gas emissions — even before the deployment of any environmentally friendly technology — according to scientists in ...

A new measure of global warming from carbon emissions

June 10, 2009

Damon Matthews, a professor in Concordia University's Department of Geography, Planning and the Environment has found a direct relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. Matthews, together with colleagues ...

Recommended for you

New study sheds light on end of Snowball Earth period

August 24, 2015

The second ice age during the Cryogenian period was not followed by the sudden and chaotic melting-back of the ice as previously thought, but ended with regular advances and retreats of the ice, according to research published ...

Earth's mineralogy unique in the cosmos

August 26, 2015

New research from a team led by Carnegie's Robert Hazen predicts that Earth has more than 1,500 undiscovered minerals and that the exact mineral diversity of our planet is unique and could not be duplicated anywhere in the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.