Aviation degrades air quality. How much depends on where you live and who your neighbours are.

News - 20 October 2020

By far the largest share of aircraft emissions is made up of CO2. But a small percentage of aviation emissions consisting of combustion by-products, such as NOx and fine particulate matter, can greatly degrade air quality. In a recent publication in Environmental Research Letters, researchers Flávio Quadros, Prof.Dr. Mirjam Snellen and Dr. Irene Dedoussi, show that how much the air quality is actually deteriorated by aviation depends on where you are in the world.

This has to do with the circulation patterns in the atmosphere but also with the composition of the atmosphere. Regional differences in the composition of the atmosphere, for example caused by other sectors’ emissions, also determine how much impact a given unit of fuel burn mass actually has on air quality. The researchers calculated that the impact is for example much worse for fuel burn over Europe than over North America or Asia. To make matters even more complex, especially for policy makers who want to improve local air quality, the researchers found that the vast majority of health impacts from aviation emissions occur outside the region of emission.

Quadros, Snellen and Dedoussi are researchers in the Aircraft Noise and Climate Effects (ANCE) section of the faculty of Aerospace Engineering TU Delft.

Read the entire article open access online: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/abb2c5

More information and contact details on the ANCE website.

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