Pacific Flights Result in Higher Levels of Ozone Pollution Than Flights in Other Parts of the World

by Nathan

Flights that originate and terminate in Pacific airspace result in the creation of far higher levels of ozone pollution than those that originate and terminate in other parts of the world, new research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found.

Specifically, the region of Pacific airspace that encompasses Australia and New Zealand is some of the most sensitive to the creation of ozone as a result of aircraft pollution, and as a result, individual flights in this area create larger amounts of ozone than flights anywhere else in the world.

Ozone is a powerful greenhouse gas with short-term effects that are comparable to those of CO2. Aircraft pollution is a strong driver of ozone production.

Image Credit: Pacific Flight via Flickr CC

The new work was done by utilizing a “global chemistry-transport model to investigate which parts of the world are specifically sensitive to the creation of ozone.”

What the work found, was that an area over the Pacific — about 1000 km to the east of the Solomon Islands — was a good deal more sensitive to aircraft emissions than anywhere else.

According to the researchers, one kg of aircraft emissions in this region — specifically oxides of nitrogen (NOx) such as nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide — results in roughly fifteen kg of extra ozone being produced in a one-year time-span. What that means is that the sensitivity in this region is about “five times higher than the sensitivity in Europe and 3.7 times higher than the sensitivity in North America.”

Steven Barrett, lead author of the new research paper, stated: “Our findings show that the cleanest parts of the atmosphere exhibit the most dramatic response to new emissions. New emissions in this part of the Pacific will result in a relatively larger response from the atmosphere.”

The press release provides more:

In an analysis of around 83,000 individual flights, the researchers found that the 10 highest ozone-producing flights either originated, or were destined for, either New Zealand or Australia. A flight from Sydney to Bombay was shown to produce the highest amount of ozone — 25,300 kg — as the majority of the flight passed through the area in the Pacific where the sensitivity was the highest.

Furthermore, the aircraft leaving and entering Australia and New Zealand are usually very large and the flight times are often very long, meaning more fuel would be burnt and more NOx emitted.

Ozone is a relatively short-lived greenhouse gas, and its production and destruction relies heavily on the local chemical state of the atmosphere, so its effects are felt in specific regions at specific times rather than on a global scale. The researchers found that flights in October cause 40 percent more NOx emissions than flights in April.

“There have been many studies of the total impact of civil aviation emissions on the atmosphere, but there is very little knowledge of how individual flights change the environment,” Barret said.

The places that the sensitivities are highest now are the fastest growing regions in terms of civil aviation growth, so there could potentially be ways to achieve significant reductions in the climate impact of aviation by focusing on re-routing aircraft around the particular regions of the world where ozone formation is highly sensitive to NOx emissions…

Of course, longer flights are going to burn more fuel and emit more CO2, so there will be a trade-off between increasing flight distance and other climate impacts, such as the effect of ozone.

The scientific underpinning of this trade-off needs further investigation so that we have a better understanding and can see whether such a trade-off can be justified,” Barrett explained.

The new findings were just published in IOP Publishing journal Environmental Research Letters.

This article, Pacific Flights Result In Higher Levels Of Ozone Pollution Than Flights In Other Parts Of The World, Research Finds, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

– For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. – Ecclesiastes 3:19

Graph: Australian Wind Farms Break Record

Originally posted on Renew Economy by Sophie Vorrath

In our Graph of the Day on Monday, we looked again at the record-breaking week of August 10-18 for wind energy in Australia.

As it turns out, the entire month of August 2013 was a record breaker, all round – for the National Electricity Market (NEM), and for the individual states of South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and NSW.

As the graph below shows, NEM demand generated by wind in the month of August reached a record high of 8 percent (up from 5.7% in July), while in South Australia, demand generated by wind during hit a smashing new high of 37.9 percent, up from 31.2 percent in August last year.

Tasmania notched up a record 11 percent of demand generated by wind (up from 7.5% in July), NSW hit a new high of 1.8 percent (up from 1.5% in August 2012) and Victoria reached 7.9 percent (up from 5.4% in July) which is enough to power the stadium lights at the Melbourne Cricket Ground continuously for the next 44 years, the Clean Energy Council says.

Wholesale wind power generation in Australia -- GigaWatt-hours/month. Image courtesy of RenewEconomy.au
Wholesale wind power generation in Australia — GigaWatt-hours/month. Image courtesy of RenewEconomy.au

All up, the Clean Energy Council says Australia’s wind farms generated 1024 gigawatt-hours in August. And according to the CEC’s infographic below, that is enough wind generated energy to make more than 6 billion (6,144,000,000) toasted sandwiches using your average sandwich press — enough for each person on Earth. Pretty handy. Here’s what else it could do…

Australia Clean Energy Council infographic. Image courtesy of CleanEnergyCouncil.org.au
Australia Clean Energy Council infographic. Image courtesy of CleanEnergyCouncil.org.au

This article, Graph: Australian Wind Farms Break Record, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

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Fukushima Radioactive Plume To Hit The US By Early 2014

By Nathan — Special to JBS News

The first radioactive ocean plume released by the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster will finally be reaching the shores of the United States sometime in 2014, according to a new study from the University of New South Wales — a full three or so years after date of the disaster.

Many researchers, and also officials from the World Health Organization, have argued that the radioactive particles that do make their way to the US will have a very limited effect on human health — as the concentration of radioactive material in US waters will be well below World Health Organization safety levels. But needless to say, there is some debate on this matter…

For the new work, the researchers utilized a number of different ocean simulations to track the path of the radiation from the Fukushima incident — the models used have identified the most likely path that the plume will take over the next ten years.

fukushima radiation

Surface (0–200m) of Cesium-137 concentrations (Bq/m3) by (a)April 2012, (b) April 2014 (c) April 2016 and (d) April 2021.Image Credit: University of New South Wales

“Observers on the west coast of the United States will be able to see a measurable increase in radioactive material three years after the event,” stated study author Dr. Erik van Sebille. “However, people on those coastlines should not be concerned as the concentration of radioactive material quickly drops below World Health Organization safety levels as soon as it leaves Japanese waters.”

The University of New South Wales has more:

Two energetic currents off the Japanese coast — the Kuroshio Current and the Kurushio Extension — are primarily responsible for accelerating the dilution of the radioactive material, taking it well below WHO safety levels within four months.

Eddies and giant whirlpools — some tens of kilometers wide — and other currents in the open ocean continue this dilution process and direct the radioactive particles to different areas along the US west coast.

Interestingly, the great majority of the radioactive material will stay in the North Pacific, with very little crossing south of the Equator in the first decade. Eventually over a number of decades, a measurable but otherwise harmless signature of the radiation will spread into other ocean basins, particularly the Indian and South Pacific oceans.

“Although some uncertainties remain around the total amount released and the likely concentrations that would be observed, we have shown unambiguously that the contact with the north-west American coasts will not be identical everywhere,” stated Dr. Vincent Rossi.

“Shelf waters north of 45°N will experience higher concentrations during a shorter period, when compared to the Californian coast. This late but prolonged exposure is due to the three-dimensional pathways of the plume. The plume will be forced down deeper into the ocean toward the subtropics before rising up again along the southern Californian shelf.”

“Australia and other countries in the Southern Hemisphere will see little if any radioactive material in their coastal waters and certainly not at levels to cause concern,” Dr. van Sebille continued.

Those interested in doing so can track the path of the radiation on a website created by the researchers.

The new research was just published new in the journal Deep-Sea Research 1.

This article, Fukushima Radioactive Plume To Hit The US By Early 2014, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity. – Ecclesiastes 3:19

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Who Are The Big 5 In The Carbon Trade?

Originally published on Shrink That Footprint by Lindsay Wilson

When we talk about a country’s carbon emissions we generally only consider those that occur within its borders. But where does the fuel for those emissions come from? And where do the products a country makes go?

In this second part of our series The Carbon Trade we look at who the big traders of carbon are. We’ll analyze the major importers and exporters of fuels and products and in doing so explain much of how carbon moves around the world, both before and after its combustion.

Image courtesy of Shrink That Footprint.
Image courtesy of Shrink That Footprint.

The Regions Fueling the World

In the first piece of this series, The Globalization of Carbon, we noted that in 2007 traded carbon totaled 17.6 Gt CO2, or 60% of total carbon emissions. More than half of this traded carbon was in the form of fuels, in particular oil and gas.

The big exporters of fuel carbon are those regions and countries that produce more fossil fuels than they use at home.

Image courtesy of Shrink That Footprint.
Image courtesy of Shrink That Footprint.

The big five fuel exporters are the Middle East, Russia, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Australia. Together these five regions export 63% of carbon in traded fuels.

Indeed they are each so rich in fossil fuels in the form of oil, natural gas and coal that each of them export more carbon in fuels than they create through combusting fuels within their borders.

Each tonne of oil, natural gas or coal that is exported by these regions is imported somewhere else. So let’s see where they go.

Living On Foreign Fuel

It is widely known that the US is dependent on foreign oil, so much so they banned crude exports back in the seventies oil shocks. But the US isn’t the only region living off fossil fuels from other regions.

This fact is plain to see when we look at who the big importers of carbon in fuels are.

Image courtesy of Shrink That Footprint.
Image courtesy of Shrink That Footprint.

When taken together the countries that make up Europe (EU27) import more carbon in the form of fuels than the US. These two regions are the big fuel importers followed by Japan, China and South Korea, based on 2007 data.

Together these five regions import a staggering 71% of all carbon traded as fuels.

China is the World’s Factory

Now that we have seen how carbon is traded before it’s combusted, it is worth looking a how it is embodied in the trade of products after its combustion. For clarity’s sake products in this case means both goods and services though the former dominates.

In the last two decades exports of Chinese made products have exploded, driven on by cheap labour, capital controls and government subsidies. This phenomenon is plain to see in the data for carbon in exported products.’

Image courtesy of Shrink That Footprint.
Image courtesy of Shrink That Footprint.

In 2007 the carbon embodied in China’s exports of goods and services totalled 1,556 Mt CO2. About the same as the exports of the United States, Europe and Russia combined.

Although these five regions accounted for a healthy 58% of the trade of carbon embodied in products it is as a general rule less centralized than is the case for fuels.

Europe and the US Buy the World’s Stuff

If China is the big exporter of carbon embodied in products it will surprise few that the US and Europe are the big buyers.

Image courtesy of Shrink That Footprint.
Image courtesy of Shrink That Footprint.

In 2007 there was 1,514 Mt of carbon dioxide emissions embodied in European imports of goods and services, a quarter of which came from China. The US was the other major importer, followed by Japan, China and the Middle East.

The fact that so much European and American consumption is supported by emissions that occur in other parts of the world highlights the perils of focusing solely on terrestrial emissions for climate policy. The increased outsourcing of carbon intensive production to regions with weaker climate regulation risks undermining the effectiveness of national climate policies.

Such risks also exist regarding carbon in fuels. If factors reducing terrestrial emissions result in increased exports of fuels this can undermine the effectiveness of national action. The more than doubling of US coal exports since 2006 in reaction to the shale boom is a good example of this.

Join us for the final post in the series tomorrow when we Mind the Carbon Gap between country’s extraction, production and consumption totals.

All the data used in this series is based on the recent, and freely downloadable, paper ‘Climate policy and dependence on traded carbon‘ by Robbie Andrew, Steven Davis and Glen Peters. Many thanks to Robbie in particular for providing the data.

This article, Who Are The Big 5 In The Carbon Trade?, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

US Uses 11 Times More Energy Than UK

The Best Idea since Sliced Bread

by John Brian Shannon

bottle return vending machine
China’s subway stations have installed vending machines for soda pop bottle returns. The machine prints a coupon, giving a discount on the subway ticket price.

The collection and return of soda pop bottles in China, a country of 1.4 billion citizens, is a multi-billion dollar per year business. Literally, hundreds of thousands of bike-riding collectors fan out across the countryside everyday to find and return billions of bottles and cans for strictly economic reasons.

Unlike here in the West, where our collective green conscience demands that we recycle our plastics and metals, wherever and whenever possible.

In some areas of North America, the Cub Scouts come to your door to relieve you of your growing pile of cans and bottles when they do a collection drive, while in other areas of the continent, people put it off as long as possible, then finally take a full Saturday to empty the garage, loading all of the ‘empties’ into the car for the wonderfully boring trip to the recycling station.

In China, citizens can now return their empty bottles for refund every day of the week, thanks to a new and growing vending-machine network located inside China’s subway stations, which takes the bottles, sorts them by colour, and compresses each one to 1/3 the original size and hands the depositor a subway coupon which lowers the subway fare.

“Return enough bottles and you get a free subway ride.”

Hey! I should write ads for the green economy movement!

[The “Money for Nothing” song is paraphrased here, with sincere apologies to Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits]

 “Now that’s the way you do it,
you drop your bottles and you ride for free!”

“Let me tell ya, those Chinese ain’t dumb!”

“Maybe get a blister on your little finger,
but then you get on a… subway free run.”

OK, I admit it needs a bit more work. But really, using vending machines to help rid us of our empty soda bottles and cans is a great idea to enhance existing bottle and can recycling programs here in North America.

Especially in the West where the coupon dispensed by the vending machines could be redeemed for anything, including online Apple iTunes purchases, movie theatre tickets, or other retail goods or services.

Retailers should think seriously about supporting this program, and not just to splash their advertising on the vending machine. There are billions of dollars of recyclable plastics and cans, which could easily be turned into millions of dollars of sales per year, just sitting in garages, parking lots, and on vacant lands.

Yes! Install these at the entrances to our National Parks, in shopping centre parking lots, and at Rest Areas along the freeway.

Retail sales will increase, while our continent looks cleaner, and more plastic gets recycled.

 “So, take this suggestion,
go return those bottles,
and let’s have some fun!”

OK, I’ll work on it. But in the meantime…

“Take this suggestion,
and get your flicks for free!”
‘ (Netflix)

Hey, retailers, see where I’m going with this? Hey, environmentally conscious people, does this resonate with you?

Sorry, I gotta go, my Agent is on Line One.

JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

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