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Volcano risk to planes - Professor

Published: 19th April 2010

MMU professor David Lee is among the leading scientists explaining the ‘ash cloud’ flying ban to the public.

David, professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University, has been interviewed by ITN news and other networks as the closure of European airspace enters a second week.

An adviser to the Government, Professor Lee is based at the Centre for Air Transport and the Environment which offers scientific support to industry and governments in sustainable aviation, airport management, aviation noise and pollution and climate change.

Research alert

Research just published by the Centre indicates that aviation will account for five per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The industry is currently responsible for only two per cent of global carbon.

By 2100, carbon dioxide emissions could increase by up to seven times current levels, they found.

The findings, published in an American Chemical Society journal, are part of a pan-European study of the impact various forms of transport have on the environment.

The fact that aviation will become a more important source of carbon emissions is not surprising as the research itself is based on the aviation industry's own predictions for traffic increases to 2025. And the researchers say shipping is likely to be even more polluting than air travel.

Worrying

Professor Lee and Dr Bethan Owen warn that the results "highlight that the rate of growth of aviation is far outstripping the rate of technological progress and improvements in efficiency".

They also highlight that the carbon output of the air industry is not the most worrying aspect of its growth, and called for more research into the effect non-carbon emissions - such as plane contrails - have on the upper atmosphere.

"Flying into the Future: Aviation Emissions Scenarios to 2050"