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Traffic and environment
Aircraft wake vortices
As an unavoidable consequence of lift a pair of counter-rotating vortices forms behind the wings. This long-lived vortex pair constitutes a potential risk to following aircraft. The proper prediction of wake vortex drift, descent, and decay and the resulting minimum separations between consecutive aircraft is vital for an effective, resource-efficient, and safe planning and guidance of air traffic.
Aviation and weather
Weather is one of the most disruptive factors in aviation. It jeopardises the safety and economic efficiency of the entire air transportation sector. Moreover, the disturbance caused by any individual weather event depends on a complex network of non-meteorological factors. The continuing increase in global air traffic requires a rigorous investigation of the impact of weather upon aviation, and the development of measures to confine that influence, especially in Europe and Germany.
Noise is one of the most important environmental problems in the vicinity of traffic infrastructures such as airports, roads and railway lines. Traffic noise originates from propulsion, wheels and air flow and is emitted into the atmosphere. The propagation of sound waves in the atmosphere is largely determined by refraction, absorption and scattering depending on the actual state of the atmosphere.
The chemical composition of the earth's atmosphere is in parts primarily determined by emissions of species like carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NO2), hydrocarbons or soot.
Climate impact of traffic
At the Institute of Atmospheric Physics we investigate the effects of various transport emissions on the constitution of the atmosphere and the climate. For example, the relative contributions of single transport means (surface transport, navigation and aviation) are quantified. For this we use laboratory studies, airborne measurements in the atmosphere with the research aircraft HALO and Falcon, as well as global climate simulations, in particular with the climate-chemistry-model EMAC.
The impact of air-traffic on climate is not only restricted to the emission of combustion products like soot, HO2, CO2 and NOX. If the ambient air is cold and moist enough the aircraft engines also trigger the formation of clouds.
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