The Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering
invites you to attend the talk
"Quantifying the Environmental Impacts of Aviation"
Dr. Sebastian Eastham
Research Scientist | MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment
Thursday, February 20
3:30 - 4:30 PM
About the Talk:
Aviation is an industry under scrutiny. It is currently estimated to be responsible for 3-5% of anthropogenic climate change, and global traffic is projected to grow steadily by 4-5% per year even as other sectors decarbonize. As such it has become the focus of fierce debate regarding environmentally responsible travel, as individuals, corporations, and governments seek to reduce their carbon footprint. However, this is complicated by uncertainty over the magnitude and nature of aviation’s effects on the environment.
This talk will break down recent work aiming to address these issues. One area of uncertainty has been the effects of aircraft exhaust on the composition of the atmosphere, beyond CO2. My research on this topic covers the chemical response of the atmosphere to aircraft emissions and demonstrates how cruise-level aircraft emissions increase population exposure to pollutants such as fine particulate matter and ozone. A second concern is aircraft condensation trails (contrails). By some estimates, contrails cause as much climate damage as all of aviation’s historical CO2 emission combined. However, their impact is subject to uncertainty regarding their rates of occurrence, lifetimes, and optical properties. I will present research combining satellite observations, aircraft measurement campaigns, and plume-scale modelling to provide empirical and theoretical constraints on the magnitude of the impact of contrails on the environment.
This work provides information which can be used to guide technological and policy solutions. By continuing to improve our understanding of aviation’s effects on the environment, we can maximize the benefits of aviation while reducing the harm.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Eastham is a research scientist at the MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment. His research quantifies the environmental damages resulting from aviation, and seeks to find ways to reduce these impacts. This includes the development and validation of global, computational models of the atmosphere, such as the GEOS-Chem UCX and GCHP; simulation of the effects of aviation on stratospheric ozone and surface air quality; and investigations into the evolution and long-term effects of aircraft exhaust plumes.
Dr. Eastham received his PhD from MIT in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 2015. This was followed by a 2-year postdoctoral position in the Harvard Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling Group, sponsored by fellowships from both the Harvard University Center for the Environment and the NOAA Climate and Global Change program.