The ever increasing pollution, scientific advancements, industrial development and the lack of concern for the environment has made clear blue skies a part of our world history. Looking up and not finding a crisscross of contrails is literally impossible. What makes it even worse is that these contrails are increasing global warming significantly since they trap the infrared energy in the earth’s atmosphere. Researchers now believe that the impact left by the vapor trails of aircrafts can be significantly reduced by adding a small distance to the total length of the flight.
A group of researchers working at the University of Reading have conducted a series of studies to find solutions to the problems of contrails. They believe that a solution is now in sight and a simple action can actually reduce the devastating effects of both issues. The BBC reports that these researchers believe that the vapor trails of aircrafts can be significantly reduced by adding a small distance to the total length of the flight. This should also help to reduce the impact of global warming.
Vapor trails are formed when aircrafts fly through moist and cold air, which leads to the exhausts from the engines to condense. Some of these trails can stretch for as much as 100 miles as well. Moreover, these trails are known to stay around for a period of 24 hours before dissipating. The impact that these trails are having on global warming is far greater than the carbon emissions.
Researchers believe that the impacts can easily be limited by flying the aircraft at a lower altitude. However, if planes fly at a lower altitude, the contrails are limited at the expense of more flight time and a significant amount of extra fuel – which leads us to the all important question. Prevent global warming or prevent burning more fuel.
To answer the question posed by their study, the researchers at Reading also sought to calculate the answer to this paradox. The study found that if flights were rerouted in strategic ways, the increase in flight length was minor and the contrail reductions were huge. For example, the researchers believe that a flight between New York to London could avoid a major contrail by adding just 14 miles to its journey.
Dr. Emma Irvine, the lead author of the research, states that people might believe that huge distances might be required to avoid such contrails, but actually the addition of a small distance can help to avoid a huge contrail. The precise adjustments that are required for flights to avoid contrails depend on the weather conditions and the type of aircraft. But, Emma states that these issues are very easy to calculate and factor into the flight. She further states that the key things that one needs to know are the temperature and the moisture content in the air, and both sets of data are already available.
There might be numerous legislative measures that need to be made all over the world in order to curb the issue of contrails and reduce global warming, but it is time that governments begin to concentrate on the environment around them. Hopefully, this study shall trigger a set of responses that allow countries to make changes for the better.