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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Types

  • Articles and Websites
  • Scientific Papers or Reports

Regional Focus


Aviation Is Responsible for 3.5 Percent of Climate Change, Study Finds

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  • This article outlines the results of a study about the impact of aviation on global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Students will learn that carbon dioxide emissions, contrails, nitrogen oxide, water vapor, sulfate aerosol gases, soot, and other aerosols produced by the aviation industry contribute to global emissions and atmospheric warming.
Teaching Tips


  •  This quick read provides students with an example of how fossil fuel-dependent industries contribute in multiple ways to climate change.
  • A detailed infographic provides a good visual of how airplanes affect the environment.

Additional Prerequisites

  •  Students should have a basic knowledge of the causes of global warming.


  • Before introducing this article, teachers can ask students to write a short paragraph about how aviation contributes to climate change. After reading the article, students can discuss what they learned with a partner or a small group.
  • Students can read this article independently and then read portions of the study, which is linked in the article, together in small groups.
  • Science or ELA classes can use the linked report for reading comprehension or scientific report assignments or activities.
Scientist Notes
There is no contradiction in the resource. However, the 5-year study is not sufficient to estimate global emissions from aircraft. It is a complex study and would have been extended to about 20-30 years period to thoroughly investigate the atmospheric circulation system, chemical transformations, and microphysical properties of emissions from aircraft in contrail cirrus - short-lived clouds. Using the IPCC estimates to quantify the datasets and to ensemble the projections, this resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 3: Gathering and Evaluating Sources
      • D3.2.9-12 Evaluate the credibility of a source by examining how experts value the source.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.
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