Study Links ‘Smog’ To Arctic Warming

Study Links ‘Smog’ To Arctic Warming

ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2006) — NASA scientists have found that a major form of global air pollution involved in summertime “smog” has also played a significant role in warming the Arctic.

In a global assessment of the impact of ozone on climate warming, scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), New York, evaluated how ozone in the lowest part of the atmosphere changed temperatures over the past 100 years. Using the best available estimates of global emissions of gases that produce ozone, the GISS computer model study reveals how much this single air pollutant, and greenhouse gas, has contributed to warming in specific regions of the world.

According to this new research, ozone was responsible for one-third to half of the observed warming trend in the Arctic during winter and spring. Ozone is transported from the industrialized countries in the Northern Hemisphere to the Arctic quite efficiently during these seasons. The findings have been accepted for publication in the American Geophysical Union’s Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.

Ozone plays several different roles in the Earth’s atmosphere. In the high-altitude region of the stratosphere, ozone acts to shield the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation. In the lower portion of the atmosphere (the troposphere), ozone can damage human health, crops and ecosystems. Ozone is also a greenhouse gas and contributes to global warming.

Ozone is formed from several other chemicals found in the atmosphere near the Earth’s surface that come from both natural sources and human activities such as fossil fuel burning, cement manufacturing, fertilizer application and biomass burning. Ozone is one of several air pollutants regulated in the United States by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The impact of ozone air pollution on climate warming is difficult to pinpoint because, unlike other greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, ozone does not last long enough in the lower atmosphere to spread uniformly around the globe. Its warming impact is much more closely tied to the region it originated from. To capture this complex picture, GISS scientists used a suite of three-dimensional computer models that starts with data on ozone sources and then tracks how ozone chemically evolved and moved around the world over the past century.

The warming impact of low-altitude ozone on the Arctic is very small in the summer months because ozone from other parts of the globe does not have time to reach the region before it is destroyed by chemical reactions fueled by ample sunshine. As a result, when it is summertime in the Northern Hemisphere, ozone-induced warming is largest near the sources of ozone emissions. The computer model showed large summer warming from ozone over western North America and eastern Europe/central Asia, areas with high levels of ozone pollution during that time of year.

The new results identify an unexpected benefit of air pollution control efforts worldwide, according to lead author Drew Shindell. “We now see that reducing ozone pollution can not only improve air quality but also have the added benefit of easing climate warming, especially in the Arctic.”

The research was supported by NASA’s Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling and Analysis Program.

Air Pollution & Its Health Impacts – The Changing Panorama


Edmonton motorists spend 5K hours at drive-thrus

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Edmonton motorists spend 5K hours at drive-thrus

Amanda Dacyk from the University of Alberta speaks with Canada AM from CTV studios in Edmonton on Wednesday, May 30, 2007.

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(May 31, 2007) News Staff

A new study from the University of Alberta has found that in Edmonton alone, motorists spend 5,000 hours each day idling in fast-food drive-thrus while waiting for their orders — an action that is having a serious impact on the environment.

“We found that in Edmonton, drive-thrus contribute about 23.5 tonnes of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere every day,” Amanda Dacyk, the author of the study told CTV’s Canada AM on Wednesday.

The researchers, who are natural resource economists from the U of A, set up a station at a Tim Hortons drive-thru and monitored the type of vehicles, the number of vehicles, and the amount of time each spent idling in the drive-thru from the time it entered the line-up until it drove away from the final pickup window.

“Our study was conducted primarily in Edmonton,” Dacyk said.

“We did some measurements at one Tim Hortons and then we expanded our measures out to include restaurants from the whole city.”

Dacyk said researchers conducted the study because many Canadians use drive-thrus every day without considering the consequences of their actions.

“It’s just become kind of a part of our culture and we thought maybe we should look at the full spectrum of results from this activity,” Dacyk said.

Dacyk is quick to point out that the study is not scientific. Students timed vehicles at one Tim Hortons location, calculated the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated, then came up with a figure based on the total number of Tim Hortons locations in the city.

However, she said it is not their intention to definitively prove the amount of emissions caused by drive-thrus, but to draw attention to the impact of one unnecessary act.

“Before any actions are taken, I think we need to have a lot more research to really get the true scope of this problem. This is a preliminary study,” Dacyk said.

“But as a society, if we decide that these are unnecessary emissions that we want to get rid of, there are several options, from education campaigns to incentives for people to use the counters instead of the drive-thrus, and at the far end of the spectrum, we could go into things like regulation of the drive-thru services.”

She said Tim Hortons was chosen for the study simply because it has a busy drive-thru.

Tim Hortons has said it is working to reduce the amount of time customers spend waiting in drive-thrus in order to curb emissions.

View the study here: edmonton-drive-thru-study

The University of Alberta in Edmonton is one of the top 100 teaching and research universities in the world serving some 37,000 students with more than 11,000 faculty and staff. Founded a century ago, the university has an annual budget in excess of $1 billion and attracts more than $480 million in external research funding. It offers close to 400 undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in 18 faculties.

Linking land use with household vehicle emissions in the central puget sound: methodological framework and findings

Lawrence D. FrankCorresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author, Brian Stone, Jr. and William Bachman

City & Regional Planning Program, Georgia Institute of Technology, 245 4th St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30332-0155, USA

Available online 21 February 2000.

Purchase the full-text article


A leading cause of air pollution in many urban regions is mobile source emissions that are largely attributable to household vehicle travel. While household travel patterns have been previously related with land use in the literature (Crane, R., 1996. Journal of the American Planning Association 62 (1, Winter); Cervero, R. and Kockelman, C., 1997. Transportation Research Part D 2 (3), 199–219), little work has been conducted that effectively extends this relationship to vehicle emissions. This paper describes a methodology for quantifying relationships between land use, travel choices, and vehicle emissions within the Seattle, Washington region. Our analysis incorporates land use measures of density and mix which affect the proximity of trip origins to destinations; a measure of connectivity which impacts the directness and completeness of pedestrian and motorized linkages; vehicle trip generation by operating mode; vehicle miles/h of travel and speed; and estimated household vehicle emissions of nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide. The data used for this project consists of the Puget Sound Transportation Panel Travel Survey, the 1990 US Census, employment density data from the Washington State Employment Security Office, and information on Seattle’s vehicle fleet mix and climatological attributes provided by the Washington State Department of Ecology. Analyses are based on a cross-sectional research design in which comparisons are made of variations in household travel demand and emissions across alternative urban form typologies. Base emission rates from MOBILE5a and separate engine start rates are used to calculate total vehicle emissions in grams accounting for fleet characteristics and other inputs reflecting adopted transportation control measures. Emissions per trip are based on the network distance of each trip, average travel speed, and a multi-stage engine operating mode (cold start, hot start, and stabilized) function.

Article Outline

1. Introduction
1.1. Linking land use and vehicle emissions
2. Research design
2.1. Travel survey data
2.2. Estimating vehicle emissions
2.3. Land use data
2.4. Database construction
3. Analysis and findings
3.1. Household vehicle travel
3.2. Household vehicle emissions
3.2.1. Density and vehicle emissions
3.2.2. Connectivity, home tract employment density, and vehicle emissions
3.2.3. Work trip distance and vehicle emissions
3.3. Regression analysis
4. Summary and conclusion

From the University of Calgary:

View the study here: edmonton-drive-thru-study

The University of Alberta in Edmonton is one of the top 100 teaching and research universities in the world serving some 37,000 students with more than 11,000 faculty and staff. Founded a century ago, the university has an annual budget in excess of $1 billion and attracts more than $480 million in external research funding. It offers close to 400 undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in 18 faculties.

From the University of Calgary:
Estimated statistics (May 2007) from the University of Calgary found Edmonton drive-thrus contribute an estimated 25 tons of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere per day. (Enough to fill over 12 NHL hockey rinks per day) Over a year, this could represent up to 9,000 tons. Using a total of 115 cities with same population and the same amount of drive-thrus, this could generate a total of I MILLION TONS in a year, and this is just for larger cities in Canada.
Now – How many trees to do we need to plant in order to offset 1 million tons of carbon in one year? 277 million trees. Even if this was possible – should we not be planting trees to offset something we actually need to live?  Perhaps heat that we need to survive in the winter months?  Is the industry going to plant these trees annually?  We don’t think so.
Does your head hurt yet?  Is anyone enraged yet?  Do we need a reality check?

From the TDL Group – RWDI Study

From the TDL Group (Tim Horton’s): Tim Horton’s is Licensed by TDL Group Ltd which is owned by Wendy’s International which a U.S. company.
The RWDI study would have us believe that customers are being more environmental by sitting in a drive-thru and idling than they are to park and walk in. In this study its conclusion states “Overall, the findings for Tim Horton’s stores examined in this study indicate no air quality benefit to the public by eliminating drive-thrus”.  The report states that the Tim Horton locations without drive-thrus produce more emissions than the stores with drive-thrus.
How can this be?
The report claims that the clients who are parking and walking in – are on site for an average 7-8 minutes.  In the most bizarre twist – it is stated that most of the additional time was a result of vehicles idling while waiting for a parking space because the lot was congested.
From the study: The emission inventory for the drive-thru portion of the facility was compared to “everyday” emission sources (i.e. lawn mowers, snow blowers etc.)
Now – just an fyi – if you didn’t know this already – push lawn mowers produce approx. 11 times the emissions than that of a car – riding lawn mowers produce approx. 34 times the emissions than that of a car. (Source- EPA) Also – according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the typical two-cycle snow blower can expel nearly a pound of carbon monoxide for every hour it runs. One wonders who considers lawn mowers, snow blowers (and incidentally leaf blowers – see below) to “‘everyday” emission sources.
They compare combined emissions of all vehicles using a drive-thru in one peak hour (137 vehicles times idling 3 to 4.5 minutes each) to that of a single chain saw operating for one hour.  Just another fyi – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that operating a chainsaw for one hour produces the same amount of exhaust emissions as driving an automobile for 1,000 kilometers.

Two Extraordinary Papers on Health

This is extraordinary… worth the quick-see read. It is of value because of the doctors options to see exercise as a need and that the current urban environment is just not being correctly adjusted to promote exercise and health. Beautiful presentation.

This goes to the core of one of the other options that an anti-drive thru approach should be doing – which is how do you build a sense of community with coffee shops located for cars and not people, not only do we not get local gathering places but how we want people not to walk in the car park.