18 Aug 2020

18 Aug 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal ACP.

Influence of the actual weather situation on non-CO2 aviation climate effects: The REACT4C Climate Change Functions

Christine Frömming1, Volker Grewe1,2, Sabine Brinkop1, Patrick Jöckel1, Amund S. Haslerud3, Simon Rosanka1,2,a, Jesper van Manen1,2,b, and Sigrun Matthes1 Christine Frömming et al.
  • 1Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 2Delft University of Technology, Aerospace Engineering, Section Aircraft Noise and Climate Effects, Delft, the Netherlands
  • 3Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO), Oslo, Norway
  • anow at: Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Institute of Energy and Climate Research, IEK-8: Troposphere, Jülich, Germany
  • bnow at: Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, The Hague, the Netherlands

Abstract. Emissions of aviation include CO2, H2O, NOx, sulfur oxides and soot. Many studies have investigated the annual mean climate impact of aviation emissions. While CO2 has a long atmospheric residence time and is almost uniformly distributed in the atmosphere, non-CO2 gases, particles and their products have short atmospheric residence times and are heterogeneously distributed. The climate impact of non-CO2 aviation emissions is known to vary with different meteorological background situations. The aim of this study is to systematically investigate the influence of different weather situations on aviation climate effects over the North Atlantic region, to identify the most sensitive areas and potentially detect systematic weather related similarities. If aircraft were re-routed to avoid climate-sensitive regions, the overall aviation climate Impact might be reduced. Hence, the sensitivity of the atmosphere to local emissions provides a basis for the assessment of weather related, climate optimized flight trajectory planning. To determine the climate change contribution of an individual Emission as function of location, time and weather situation, the radiative impact of local emissions of NOx and H2O to changes in O3, CH4, H2O and contrail-cirrus was computed by means of the ECHAM5/MESSy Atmospheric Chemistry model. 4-dimensional climate change functions (CCFs) were derived thereof. Typical weather situations in the North Atlantic region were considered for winter and summer. Weather related differences in O3-, CH4-, H2O-, and contrail-cirrus-CCFs were investigated. The following characteristics were identified: Enhanced climate impact of contrail-cirrus was detected for emissions in areas with large scale lifting, whereas low climate impact of contrail-cirrus was found in the area of the jet stream. Northwards of 60° N contrails usually cause climate warming in winter, independent of the weather situation. NOx emissions cause a high positive climate impact if released in the area of the jet stream or in high pressure ridges, which induces a south- and downward transport of the emitted species. Whereas NOx emissions at, or transported towards high latitudes, cause low or even negative climate impact. Independent of the weather situation, total NOx effects show a minimum at ∼250 hPa, increasing towards higher and lower altitudes, with generally higher positive impact in summer than in winter. H2O emissions induce a high climate Impact when released in regions with lower tropopause height, whereas low climate impact occurs for emissions in areas with higher tropopause height. H2O-CCFs generally increase with height, and are larger in winter than in summer. The CCFs of all individual species can be combined, facilitating the assessment of total climate impact of aircraft trajectories considering CO2 and spatially and temporally varying non-CO2 effetcs. Furthermore they allow the optimization of aircraft trajectories with reduced overall climate impact. In most regions NOx and contrail-cirrus dominate the sensitivity to local aviation emissions. The findings of this study recommend, to consider weather related differences for flight trajectory optimization in favour of reducing total climate impact.

Christine Frömming et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
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Christine Frömming et al.

Christine Frömming et al.


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Short summary
We investigate the influence of different weather situations on non-CO2 aviation climate impact to identify systematic weather related sensitivities. If aircraft avoid most sensitive areas, climate impact might be reduced. Enhanced significance is found for emission in relation to high pressure systems, jet stream, polar night, tropopause altitude. The results represent a comprehensive dataset for studies aiming at weather dependent flight trajectory optimization reducing total climate impact.