Traveling by car increases global temperatures more than by plane, but only in long term

October 20, 2010

Driving a car increases global temperatures in the long run more than making the same long-distance journey by air according to a new study. However, in the short run travelling by air has a larger adverse climate impact because airplanes strongly affect short-lived warming processes at high altitudes. The study appears in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-weekly journal.

In the study, Jens Borken-Kleefeld and colleagues compare the impacts on global warming of different means of transport. The researchers use, for the first time, a suite of climate chemistry models to consider the climate effects of all long- and short-lived gases, aerosols and cloud effects, not just carbon dioxide, resulting from transport worldwide. They concluded that in the long run the global temperature increase from a car trip will be on average higher than from a plane journey of the same distance. However, in the first years after the journey, air travel increases global temperatures four times more than car travel. Passenger trains and buses cause four to five times less impact than automobile travel for every mile a passenger travels. The findings prove robust despite the scientific uncertainties in understanding the earth's climate system.

"As planes fly at high altitudes, their impact on ozone and clouds is disproportionately high, though short lived. Although the exact magnitude is uncertain, the net effect is a strong, short-term, temperature increase," explains Dr. Jens Borken-Kleefeld, lead author of the study. "Car travel emits more carbon dioxide than air travel per passenger mile. As carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere longer than the other gases, cars have a more harmful impact on climate change in the long term."
-end-
ARTICLE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE "Specific Climate Impact of Passenger and Freight Transport"

DOWNLOAD FULL TEXT ARTICLE http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/es9039693

CONTACT:
Jens Borken-Kleefeld, Ph.D.
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Laxenburg, Australia
Phone: 43 (2236) 870-570
Fax: 43 (2236) 870-530
Email: Borken@iiasa.ac.at

Leane Regan, Press Officer
IIASA
Tel: +43 2236 807 316 or Mob: +43 664 443 0368
Email: regan@iiasa.ac.at

American Chemical Society

Related Air Articles from Brightsurf:

Achieving clean air for all is possible
Air pollution is currently the largest environmental risk factor for human health globally and can be linked to several million cases of premature deaths every year.

New nitrogen products are in the air
A nifty move with nitrogen has brought the world one step closer to creating a range of useful products -- from dyes to pharmaceuticals -- out of thin air.

Using air to amplify light
In a promising breakthrough for the future of communications, EPFL researchers have developed a technology that can amplify light in the latest hollow-core optical fibers.

Traffic density, wind and air stratification influence concentrations of air pollutant NO2
Traffic density is the most important factor for much the air pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Nearly half of US breathing unhealthy air; record-breaking air pollution in nine cities
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of air pollution on lung health is of heightened concern.

New self-assembled monolayer is resistant to air
Organic self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) have been around for over forty years.

Clean air research converts toxic air pollutant into industrial chemical
A toxic pollutant produced by burning fossil fuels can be captured from the exhaust gas stream and converted into useful industrial chemicals using only water and air thanks to a new advanced material developed by an international team of scientists.

Combatting air pollution with nature
Air pollution is composed of particles and gases that can have negative impacts on both the environment and human health.

Are students getting enough air?
Roughly 85 percent of recently installed HVAC systems in K-12 classrooms investigated in California did not provide adequate ventilation, according to a study from the University of California, Davis, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Let's clear the air
New research from the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, in partnership with the Kingsley Association and funded by the Heinz Endowments examined the impact that bottom-up, community-level initiatives have in addressing environmental justice issues.

Read More: Air News and Air Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.