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Reducing Night Flights May Ease Winter Global Warming, Report Says
Contrails from winter night flights may be most responsible for the global warming caused by air traffic, even though they constitute a fraction of commercial flights, meteorologists at the University of Reading reported Wednesday.
Though there would be enormous practical problems, airlines could markedly reduce aviation's impact on climate by changing schedules to restrict night flying, the researchers said in the journal Nature.
"We get one-half of the climate effect from one-quarter of the year, from less than one-quarter of the air traffic," said meteorologist Nicola Stuber, who led the English research team. "If you get rid of the night flights, you can reduce the climate warming effect of the contrails."
Overall, aviation accounts for a relatively small portion of the emissions involved in rising global temperatures, but international commercial air travel is among the fastest growing unregulated sources of greenhouse gases and a topic of concern among climate regulators.