Aviation plays an important role in the global mobility. However, it also alters the atmospheric composition and thereby contributes to climate change. In the light of developing sustainable aviation climate-optimized flight planning offers one possibility to mitigate aviation climate impact. A feasibility study on climate-optimized flight planning was performed within the European collaborative project REACT4C and has been awarded the Aviation Award 2014 by the Airport of Stuttgart. This study of scientists of the institute and other coauthors from the European project team has the title 'Reduction of air traffic contribution to climate change: a REACT4C case study'.
Air traffic emits a number of species. Besides carbon dioxide, non-CO2 emissions, like nitrogen oxides, water vapour, carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons, and soot play an important role and lead to changes in the composition of the atmosphere. They are contributing significantly to climate change through changes in the greenhouse gas concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), ozone (O3), water vapour (H2O), and methane (CH4) and through the formation of contrail-cirrus. The impact of a locally confined air traffic emission shows a large spatial and temporal variability, except for carbon dioxide, because of its long perturbation lifetime.
The project REACT4C investigated trans-Atlantic air traffic and analyzed, which routing changes were required to achieve a reduction in the air traffic's contribution to climate change by combining a detailed climate-chemistry model (EMAC) and a detailed air traffic model (SAAM). Results from a 1-day case study in the North Atlantic Flight corridor show, that with only small changes to the air traffic routings and flight altitudes, climate impact reductions of around 25% can be achieved by an only small increase in economic costs of less than 0.5%.
Reference: Grewe, V., Champougny, T., Matthes, S., Frömming, C., Brinkop, S., Søvde, A.O., Irvine,E.A., Halscheidt, L., 2014: Reduction of the air traffic's contribution to climate change: A REACT4C case study. Atmos.Environ., 94, 616–625. (IPA authors of the awarded publication in bold)
Contact: Dr. Sigrun Matthes