Emission metrics for quantifying regional climate impacts of aviation
- 1CICERO, Center for International Climate Research, Oslo, Norway
- 2Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
- 3Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
- 4Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
Abstract. This study examines the impacts of emissions from aviation in six source regions on global and regional temperatures. We consider the NOx-induced impacts on ozone and methane, aerosols and contrail-cirrus formation and calculate the global and regional emission metrics global warming potential (GWP), global temperature change potential (GTP) and absolute regional temperature change potential (ARTP). The GWPs and GTPs vary by a factor of 2–4 between source regions. We find the highest aviation aerosol metric values for South Asian emissions, while contrail-cirrus metrics are higher for Europe and North America, where contrail formation is prevalent, and South America plus Africa, where the optical depth is large once contrails form. The ARTP illustrate important differences in the latitudinal patterns of radiative forcing (RF) and temperature response: the temperature response in a given latitude band can be considerably stronger than suggested by the RF in that band, also emphasizing the importance of large-scale circulation impacts. To place our metrics in context, we quantify temperature change in four broad latitude bands following 1 year of emissions from present-day aviation, including CO2. Aviation over North America and Europe causes the largest net warming impact in all latitude bands, reflecting the higher air traffic activity in these regions. Contrail cirrus gives the largest warming contribution in the short term, but remain important at about 15 % of the CO2 impact in several regions even after 100 years. Our results also illustrate both the short- and long-term impacts of CO2: while CO2 becomes dominant on longer timescales, it also gives a notable warming contribution already 20 years after the emission. Our emission metrics can be further used to estimate regional temperature change under alternative aviation emission scenarios. A first evaluation of the ARTP in the context of aviation suggests that further work to account for vertical sensitivities in the relationship between RF and temperature response would be valuable for further use of the concept.