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InterFAB Expert Talk emphazise the role of non-CO2 emissions for global warming


Baltic FAB and Oro Navigacija would like to thank Sigrun Matthes from the institute of Atmospheric Physics of the German Aerospace Center, FABEC (tag) and all 150 participants for making the 4th InterFAB’s Expert Talks webinar a success.  Great interest in the event and lively discussion prove the fact that Climate Change is one of the hottest topics in today’s ATM.

To cover this topic, actually, the whole serie of webinars would be needed, as it is wide and comprehensive. Environmental inefficiencies of  ATM; operational impact; Sustainable aviation;  Green Deal, pandemic and Green Recovery; Climate change impact to aviation and vice versa, aviation’s impact to the climate; Co2 and non-CO2 emissions; Environmental Transparency; Collaborative Environmental Management impact made by different actors of the aviation chain – these are just SOME of the aspects to address in the context of Climate change.

On the Expert Talks of May 11, 2021 we  focused on on climate impact and on mitigation options how ATM could contribute to this challenge by identifying Climate-Optimized Trajectories. We talked about mitigation potentials, innovative MET products as well as the challenge towards implementation. 

Transportation accounts for a quarter of EU greenhouse gas emissions*, prompting aviation to seek ways of reducing its 5% contribution across ground-based and airborne sectors. Focus to date has been on decreasing carbon dioxide (CO2), however new research by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) suggests CO2 is responsible for less than half of airborne emissions. Dr Sigrun Matthes presented analysis from DLR’s Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the fourth InterFAB Expert Talk entitled Climate Change and the role of ATM on 11 May 2021 showing that exhaust gases generate more non-CO2 emissions, and their impact on climate change varies significantly depending upon altitude, latitude and local weather conditions. The findings are leading to further research activity into climate-optimised alternative trajectories.

Combustion bi-products including nitrogen dioxide (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and soot have a climate-changing impact which can be both negative and positive. The ‘climate sensitivity parameter’ developed by DLR helps to measure the direct and indirect effects of these emissions and their impact on the radiative balance of the atmosphere. For example, NOx influences other components such as ozone which in turn may have a greenhouse gas effect, while the interaction between aerosols and clouds reduces the warming impact of ozone. The metric also takes account of different product lifetimes.

Dr Sigrun Matthes said: “Fuel inefficiencies and CO2 emissions decrease at higher altitudes. In contrast, the non-CO2 effects of water vapour, NOx and contrails are all reduced at lower altitudes. There is a strong vertical dependence that shows changing flight altitude can help to mitigate climate impact, but many factors influence this non-linear relationship.”

DLR is part of SESAR research2 to develop multi-dimensional algorithms with the ability to forecast climate impact with refence to meteorological data and aircraft trajectories. By linking synoptic scale weather patterns with predicted trajectories these algorithmic climate change tools can help manage potential perturbation, for example by minimising ozone production in the tropics where radiation is high in comparison with mid-latitudes. These spatially and temporal parameters can potentially identify trajectories with lower overall impact which, once they reach technological readiness, can be implemented in an expanded ATM environment. The results could add to resources already used by airspace users, such as the jet stream, to reduce climate impact.
“The next step is ensuring robustness by using ensemble forecasts. It is important to reduce uncertainty to enable aviation to perform a risk analysis to assess better or at least similar fuel-optimum trajectories in a scientific way,” said Dr Sigrun Matthes.

Eglė Merkienė, Head of  Oro Navigacija’s Strategic Development and International Programme division (Baltic FAB and Climate Change Webinar moderator) was very satisfied about the possibility to contribute to the seminar arrangements and said: We are happy to support InterFAB initiative to address actual ATM topics, spread important messages and, in this case, to make aviation sector stakeholders aware of different aspects of Climate Change.

You can see the video of Expert Talks webinar here>>>> 

InterFAB Expert Talks provide a platform where experiences can be shared and views exchanged on the key issues which relate to data and performance in ATM.


*Transport accounts for a quarter of EU greenhouse gas emissions, European Green Deal