Articles | Volume 16, issue 7
Research article
11 Apr 2016
Research article |  | 11 Apr 2016

The global impact of the transport sectors on atmospheric aerosol in 2030 – Part 2: Aviation

Mattia Righi, Johannes Hendricks, and Robert Sausen

Abstract. We use the EMAC (ECHAM/MESSy Atmospheric Chemistry) global climate–chemistry model coupled to the aerosol module MADE (Modal Aerosol Dynamics model for Europe, adapted for global applications) to simulate the impact of aviation emissions on global atmospheric aerosol and climate in 2030. Emissions of short-lived gas and aerosol species follow the four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) designed in support of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We compare our findings with the results of a previous study with the same model configuration focusing on year 2000 emissions. We also characterize the aviation results in the context of the other transport sectors presented in a companion paper. In spite of a relevant increase in aviation traffic volume and resulting emissions of aerosol (black carbon) and aerosol precursor species (nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide), the aviation effect on particle mass concentration in 2030 remains quite negligible (on the order of a few ng m−3), about 1 order of magnitude less than the increase in concentration due to other emission sources. Due to the relatively small size of the aviation-induced aerosol, however, the increase in particle number concentration is significant in all scenarios (about 1000 cm−3), mostly affecting the northern mid-latitudes at typical flight altitudes (7–12 km). This largely contributes to the overall change in particle number concentration between 2000 and 2030, which also results in significant climate effects due to aerosol–cloud interactions. Aviation is the only transport sector for which a larger impact on the Earth's radiation budget is simulated in the future: the aviation-induced radiative forcing in 2030 is more than doubled with respect to the year 2000 value of −15 mW m−2 in all scenarios, with a maximum value of −63 mW m−2 simulated for RCP2.6.

Short summary
Using a global aerosol model, we estimate the impact of aviation emissions on aerosol and climate in 2030 for different scenarios. The aviation impacts on particle number are found to be much more important than the impact on aerosol mass and significantly contribute to the overall increase in particle number concentration between 2000 and 2030. This leads to a large aviation-induced climate effect (mostly driven by aerosol-cloud interactions), a factor of 2 to 4 larger than in the year 2000.
Final-revised paper