13 Sep 2013

New MIT study shows Pacific flight routes most harmful

12:41 pm on 13 September 2013

A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found that flights entering and exiting New Zealand and Australia are the most environmentally harmful in the world.

The study, lead by aeronautics professor Steven Barrett, says this is because the atmosphere in the Pacific region is so pristine.

Arielle Monk reports:

"The study shows that cleaner atmosphere responds more intensely to aviation emissions than already polluted areas. It estimates that 1 kilogramme of these emissions, which contain oxides of nitrogen, will create about 13 kilogrammes of ozone - a much larger amount than usual. An area about 1000 kilometres north-east of Solomon Islands is the most sensitive to aviation emissions, producing five times more ozone than regions in Europe. Mr Barrett says the science is not perfect, and independent investigations would need to happen before any action could be proposed. He says the study was not created to stop flying through the Pacific, but rather aimed to analyse how individual flight emissions affect the environment. Mr Barrett and MIT researchers analysed 83,000 flight routes and ranked each one according to the pollution produced. They found the ten highest ozone-producing routes all flew in to, or out of, Australia and New Zealand."