According to a recent study by climate researchers, aeroplanes may be ejecting significant amounts of black carbon (BC) which in turn is affecting monsoon, depleting the ozone layer and quickening glacier melt.
The study was conducted by climate researchers from multiple institutions in India including from the Indian Institute of Science and ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.
Earlier it was believed that airborne BC is unlikely to travel upward of 4 km and dissipate and settle down in few months under the influence of wind and rain. However, this study shows that such particles exist up to 18 km into the stratosphere, a stable region of the atmosphere.
Given the shape and location of these BC particles, researchers believe they could only derive from emissions from burning of aviation fuel in aeroplanes. As BC particles absorb heat, they warm the surrounding air, become lighter and rise to greater heights by a process called self-lift and persist for longer time in the air.
The airborne BC particles released by aeroplanes possess a problem because they can linger long time, enough to provide a fertile ground for other chemical reactions that can deplete the ozone layer. As, BC particles strongly absorb solar and terrestrial radiation and heats up the atmosphere it can also upset the monsoon system. If deposited on snow, it could accelerate the heating of snow and quicken the melting of glaciers.
Significance of Study: This is the first time that any group of climate researchers in the world has shown that black carbon from aircraft can go to the stratosphere and affect the ozone layer.