Flight paths over greenspace in major United States airports

(1) Milton Academy, Milton, Massachusetts, (2) Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, India

Cover photo for Flight paths over greenspace in major United States airports
Image credit: Mostafijur Rahman Nasim

Greenspaces refers to urban and wetlands that contain vegetation, essentially spaces that are green. Because greenspaces are beneficial to reducing pollution, we investigated whether if there is a trend where planes tend to fly over greenspace near airports. We used flight data to generate the flight paths and satellite images and then processed them to find if there was an observable pattern between the location of greenspaces and flight paths. Our hypothesis was that each airport would show a different percentage of planes that fly over greenspace; we expected airports in the suburbs to have higher values, whereas airports near the cities to have lower values. To test the hypothesis, we used image processing functions such as Binarize and SetAlphaChannel from Wolfram Mathematica and statistical analysis in Mathematica. We observed that generally near airports, around 10–15% of total flight paths go over greenspaces. From our observations, we believe that increasing greenspaces near airports would reduce noise pollution and having more trees will absorb the carbon dioxide from planes, resulting in less pollution near airports.

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