Aviation and Climate Change

451 words | 2 page(s)

The contribution of global aviation to the acceleration of global warming has repeatedly become the topic of scientific research and calculations. It is known that the share of emissions made daily by aircraft accounts for about two percent of global emissions of CO2 (International Air Transport Association, 2018). The purpose of this paper is to analyze how global warming affects the aviation industry itself.

Coffel & Horton (2015) from Columbia University found that the projected increase in average global temperature could directly affect the volatility of aircraft and cause a cancellation of up to a third of flights on the hottest days. Otherwise, the apparatus will have to drain fuel, remove luggage, or even reduce the number of passengers. This is because of air, due to which the plane lifts on take-off. When heated, the air expands, and its density decreases (Coffel & Horton, 2015). In the thinner air, the wings create a smaller lifting force. Therefore, under an inevitable confluence of circumstances, such as the length of the runway and the model of the aircraft, conditions may arise in which the filled plane cannot tear themselves away from the strip.

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UN experts agree, saying that climate change hampers aircraft take-offs, as well as contributes to increased turbulence, icing of the cladding and dust-laden storms threatening the engines. In particular, the International Civil Aviation Organization (2016) informed that rising sea levels endangered airports located in the lowlands, and an increased cloud amount impaired visibility. Primarily it will be noticeable in Latin America and the Middle East. Experts say that in new conditions the reliability of aircraft must be carefully monitored, since the probability of accidents increases during extreme weather.

Furthermore, the airports situated in the highlands of the subtropics are also threatened due to the expected maximum values of temperatures in combination with higher specific humidity values (WMO Secretariat, 2016). The traditional method of planning long-distance flights for the colder night hours will also be influenced by a reduction in the period of night coolness, in which there is often high cloudiness, partly due to long-persistent condensation traces of aircraft (WMO Secretariat, 2016).

Summarizing, the change in the climate has a significant impact on the aviation industry. In particular, the one of the possible issue for aviation is the rise in temperature peaks and flooding airports in lowlands.

  • Coffel, E., & Horton, R. (2015). Climate Change and the Impact of Extreme Temperatures on Aviation. Weather, Climate, And Society, 7(1), 94-102. doi: 10.1175/wcas-d-14-00026.1.
  • International Air Transport Association. (2018). “Fact Sheet.” Retrieved from https://www.iata.org/pressroom
  • International Civil Aviation Organization. (2016). “ICAO Environmental Report 2016.” Retrieved from https://www.icao.int/
  • WMO Secretariat. (2016). “Climate change impacts on aviation: An interview with Herbert Puempel.” Retrieved from https://public.wmo.int/en/resources/bulletin/climate-change-impacts-aviation-interview-herbert-puempel.

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