CEO at Aero Engine Craft
Contrail-induced global warming: why the aviation industry needs to be thinking beyond carbon emissions
On the 23rd of September 2021
From 17H30 to 18H00 (CEST)
The combustion by-products of any hydrocarbon fuel burn, including jet engine fuel burn, are water vapor and carbon dioxide. Water vapor is, therefore, one of the most abundant non-carbon emission in the atmosphere. It has a variable and lower residence time as compared to carbon dioxide. However, water vapor on the ground is recycled quickly and has negligible contribution to global warming. On the contrary, at higher altitudes during cruise flight of a commercial aircraft, when released from jet engines, this water vapor acts as a greenhouse gas and also forms contrails - the white trailing line of smoke behind a jet engine - thereby, becoming a major contributor to global warming. In that context, water vapor induced contribution to global warming is a phenomenon which is specific to the aviation industry alone and, therefore, the level of understanding on its complex behavior is fairly limited. This presentation is an attempt to explain this behaviour. Since aviation is the sole contributor to global warming in the upper atmosphere, it is crucial to understand this phenomenon in order to align research, funding, and innovation in the right direction and, hence, prioritize commercialization accordingly.