Aeroplanes may be ejecting significant amounts of black carbon (BC) a pollutant known to aggravate breathing disorders, upset the monsoon and quicken glacier melt and may be depleting the ozone layer, according to a study by climate researchers from multiple institutions in the country.
Though airborne, BC is known to dissipate and settle down in a few months under the influence of rain and wind and is unlikely to travel upward of 4 km. However, a group of scientists including from the Indian Institute of Science and ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre say they now have evidence of such particles existing up to 18 km into the stratosphere and there are about 10,000 of them in every cubic centimetre.
Given the shape and location of these particles, they argue, it could only derive from emissions from aviation fuel and they pose a problem because these black carbon particles can linger long enough to provide a fertile ground for other chemical reactions that can deplete the ozone layer. This is the first time that any group in the world has shown that black carbon from aircraft can go to the stratosphere and affect the ozone layer.