One Day of Air Traffic

Elle Zhan Wei
May 14th 2017

Humans have a long history of colonizing the sky: every day there are on average 8.000 planes in the air carrying over half a million people, creating an interesting landscape. Los Angeles based photographer Mike Kelley daily documents the aerial landscape and captures the entire day of air traffic in just one image.

Kelley's Airportrait series is made with maximum documentary possibility, with just a minor altering in avoiding overlapping, giving Mike's photographs an infographic-like quality.

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

A report published in 2016 had pointed out that increased level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could dramatically escalate strong turbulence for airplanes. If we don't do anything to reduce CO2 concentration by 2050, about 188% of airplanes would experience severe turbulence, a spike from 36%.

Zurich Airport.

Airplanes are giant polluting machines. The CO2 emission rate of a 220 seater Airbus A321 is 9.074 kg/km. The planes cruising speed is 854 km/h, and during just one hour flying time it emits 7.667.530 kg of CO2. According to a report by a biodiversity group, planes alone could generate 43 gigatons of pollution by 2050, consuming almost 5% of world's remaining carbon budget, heavily intensifying global warming.

Los Angeles International airport.

Should we give up air traveling? Of course not, but a healthier alternative should be in place as soon as possible, for us to go around the world sustainably. Maybe, in a few year when Kelley decides to pick up his camera once again for a sequel to this series, it will be all solar planes or electro ones taking up the air space.

Sources: Designboom, Biodiversity.org. Images: Mike Kelley

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