Too Hot to Fly: Heat Waves to Prevent Airplanes From Taking Off
By Tim Radford
And as the mercury rises, those aircraft that are cleared for takeoff may have been forced to take off a dozen protesting passengers, to lighten the load and get the rest of them safely off the ground.
Aircraft now contribute an estimated two percent to the greenhouse gas emissions that generate global warming. In the course of 2016, according to the World Bank, 3.7 billion people took flights, so even a small percentage of disruptions could affect huge numbers and keep them, fuming with impatience, in the flight lounges.
According to researchers from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, disruption is on the way.
They report in the journal Climatic Change that, if humans continue to burn fossil fuels at an accelerating rate, and as average global temperatures creep up by the predicted 4°C above historic levels, then on the hottest days, between 10 percent and 30 percent of fully-loaded planes may have to remove fuel, cargo or passengers before they can take off: either that, or flights will have to be delayed to the cooler hours.
This is not the only problem that global warming and associated climate change will deliver to the airlines. Other researchers have warned more than once that as temperatures rise, so will the challenge of clear air turbulence.
But passengers won't just have to keep their seat belts locked—they may have to stay locked in for longer, as jet stream wind patterns change. Other research teams have found that slower progress against headwinds will mean dramatic increases in fuel demands.
But the Columbia team may be the first to have thought about the problems that warming will bring to the airport tarmac. Warmer air means thinner air. As the air thins, wings generate less lift as the plane accelerates along the runway. If the temperature gets too high, the plane may be too heavy to take off at all.
Average global temperatures have increased by almost 1°C since 1980. Late in June, American Airlines cancelled more than 40 flights out of Phoenix, Arizona as daytime temperatures inched up to 48°C.
And heat waves are expected to become more frequent, more prolonged and more intense with global warming. By 2100, temperatures on airport runways could have reached 4°C to 8°C higher than they are now.
The Columbia scientists considered the performances of five Boeing and Airbus commercial aircraft, and 19 major airports, and then worked with projections of future climate change to see how this would affect air traffic.
They found that tomorrow's aircraft would have to lose weight to gain altitude: up to four percent. For an aircraft of 160 seats, this would mean the loss of 12 or 13 passengers.
"Our results suggest that weight restriction may impose a non-trivial cost on airlines and impact aviation operations around the world," said Ethan Coffel, a Columbia University doctoral student. "The sooner climate can be incorporated into mid- and long-range plans, the more effective adaptation efforts can be."
And his co-author Radley Horton, a climatologist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said, "This points to the unexplored risks of changing climate on aviation.
"As the world gets more connected and aviation grows, there may be substantial potential for cascading effects, economic and otherwise."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Climate News Network.
Eleven peaceful activists from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise have taken to the water in inflatable boats with handheld banners to oppose the Statoil Songa Enabler oil rig, 275 km North off the Norwegian coast, in the Arctic Barents sea.
The banners say: "People Vs. Arctic Oil" and are directed at Statoil and the Norwegian government, which has opened a new, aggressive search for oil in the waters of the Barents Sea.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) paved the way Friday for the 600-mile, 42-inch fracked gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline to proceed when it issued the final environmental impact statement (FEIS). A joint project of utility giants Duke Energy and Dominion Energy, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline would move fracked gas from West Virginia into Virginia and North Carolina.
In April, the Sierra Club submitted more than 500 pages of legal and technical comments on FERC's draft EIS, which were joined by more than 18,000 individual comments detailing opposition to the project. The pipeline has been met with widespread opposition, with more than 1,000 people participating in public hearings across the three affected states. The Sierra Club recently requested that FERC issue a new environmental review document analyzing information that came in after or late in, the public comment process.
By Jessica Corbett
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"ExxonMobil demonstrated reckless disregard for U.S. sanction requirements," according to enforcement filing released by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which issued the penalty. Though the fine is reportedly the maximum penalty allowed, it's pittance to one of the world's most profitable and powerful corporations, which last year reported a profit of $7.8 billion.
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The text of the ordinance details the climate impacts facing South Miami.
By Ben Jervey
Just last week, we fact-checked and debunked every line of The Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars, a video produced by Fueling U.S. Forward, a Koch-funded campaign to push fossil fuels. That video represents the group's first public pivot from fossil fuel boosterism to electric vehicle (EV) attacks. More electric vehicle experts are also picking the video apart.
One effort is this video highlighting many of the same falsehoods we wrote about, and which adds key context about some of the video footage. Like, for instance, the fact that the photo that Fueling U.S. Forward claims is a lithium, cobalt or cerium mining operation is actually a copper mine.
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