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Soot and Sulfuric Acid from Aircraft: Is There Enough to Cause Detrimental Environmental E-kCTSs?Aerosol from aircraft can affect the environment in three ways: First, soot aerosol has been implicated to cause Icing-tern ozone depletion at mid-latitudes in the lower stratosphere at a rate of approx. 5% per decade. This effect is in addition and unrelated to the polar ozone holes which are strongly influenced by heterogeneous chemistry on polar stratospheric clouds. Second, the most obvious effect of jet aircraft is the formation of visible contrails in the upper troposphere. The Salt Lake City region experienced an 8% increase in cirrus cloud cover over a 15-year period which covariates with an increase in regional commercial air traffic. If soot particles act as freezing nuclei to cause contrail formation heterogeneously, they would be linked to a secondary effect to cloud modification that very likely is climatologically important. Third, a buildup of soot aerosol could reduce the single scatter albedo of stratospheric aerosol from 0.993+0.004 to 0.98, a critical value that has been postulated to separate stratospheric cooling from warming. Thus arises an important question: Do aircraft emit sufficient amounts of soot to have detrimental effects and warrant emission controls? During the 1996 SUCCESS field campaign, we sampled aerosols in the exhaust wake of a Boeing 757 aircraft and determined emission indices for sulfuric acid (EI(sub H2SO4) = 9.0E-2 and 5.0E-1 g/kg (sub FUEL) for 75 and 675 ppm fuel-sulfur, respectively) and soot aerosol (2.2E-3 less than EI(sub SOOT) = l.lE-2 g/kg (sub FUEL)). The soot particle analysis accounted for their fractal nature, determined electron-microscopically, which enhanced the surface area by a factor of 26 and the volume 11-fold over equivalent-volume spheres. The corresponding fuel-sulfur to H2SO4 conversion efficiency was 10% (for 675 ppmm fuel-S) and 37% (for 75 ppmm fuel-S). Applying the H2SO4 emission index to the 1990 fuel use by the worlds commercial fleets of 1.3E11 kg, a conversion efficiency of 30% of 500 ppmm fuel-S would have led to an annual contribution to the atmospheric sulfur budget by aircraft of 2.E7 kg H2SO4. This is about one part in 1.E4 of anthropogenic sulfate from other sources. The soot emission index given above yielded a 1990 injection of soot aerosol by aircraft of 1.E6 kg. Thus, soot amounts to only five percent of the aerosol generated by aircraft. Its reactivity with ozone would have to be 20 times that of sulfuric acid particles to make it chemically significant. Nevertheless, the findings, of stratospheric soot loadings commensurate with aircraft fuel consumption, based on the emission index given above and the assumption of stratospheric residence times of the order of one year implicate aircraft as stratospheric polluters. A trend similar to soot of H2SO4 aerosol loading could not be deciphered, neither from in situ measurements nor SAGE II satellite extinction, against the "noise" due to volcanic eruptions. Observation of soot particles at 20 km altitude which, if emitted by aircraft were generated at 10-12 km altitude, suggests a displacement of those particles against gravity. Because eddy mixing is virtually absent in the lower stratosphere and isentropic mixing explains lofting to only about 15 km, radiometric forces acting on morphologically and chemically asymmetric soot particles must be considered a possibility. The consequence could be an extended residence time of soot against that of sulfuric acid aerosol that would lower the single scatter albedo with time.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Pueschel, R. F.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Strawa, A. W.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Ferry, G. V.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Howard, S. D.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Verma, S.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1998
Subject Category
Environment Pollution
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP# 538 08 12 14
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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