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Impact of Aviation on Climate

Research Priorities

Guy P. Brasseur and Mohan Gupta

Though presently small in magnitude, aviation's future impact on climate will likely increase with the absence of effective mitigation measures. With the exception of CO2 emissions, climate impacts of aviation emissions are quite uncertain, and there are scientific gaps that need to be addressed to guide decision making. An objective of the Next Generation Air Transportation System is to limit or reduce aviation's impact on climate. Therefore, the Federal Aviation Administration has developed the Aviation Climate Change Research Initiative (ACCRI) to address key scientific gaps and reduce uncertainties while providing timely scientific input to advance and implement mitigation measures. This paper provides a brief overview of the priority-driven research areas that ACCRI has identified and that need to be pursued to better characterize aviation's impact on climate change.

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Marco A. Giorgetta, Guy P. Brasseur, Erich Roeckner, and Jochem Marotzke

Understanding the internal and externally forced dynamics of the climate system has been the major research goal of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) since its foundation. Numerical models are considered as essential to test our knowledge on the functioning of the climate system as a whole or in parts, and to explore consequences of changed boundary conditions. Therefore, a palette of numerical models for atmosphere, ocean, and land has been developed and used in the global or regional context. This special issue now presents the most recent set of global models developed at the MPI-M, used here to

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Cheng Liu, Meng Gao, Qihou Hu, Guy P. Brasseur, and Gregory R. Carmichael

Abstract

Monitoring and modeling/predicting air pollution are crucial to understanding the links between emissions and air pollution levels, to supporting air quality management, and to reducing human exposure. Yet, current monitoring networks and modeling capabilities are unfortunately inadequate to understand the physical and chemical processes above ground and to support attribution of sources. We highlight the need for the development of an international stereoscopic monitoring strategy that can depict three-dimensional (3D) distribution of atmospheric composition to reduce the uncertainties and to advance diagnostic understanding and prediction of air pollution. There are three reasons for the implementation of stereoscopic monitoring: 1) current observation networks provide only partial view of air pollution, and this can lead to misleading air quality management actions; 2) satellite retrievals of air pollutants are widely used in air pollution studies, but too often users do not acknowledge that they have large uncertainties, which can be reduced with measurements of vertical profiles; and 3) air quality modeling and forecasting require 3D observational constraints. We call on researchers and policymakers to establish stereoscopic monitoring networks and share monitoring data to better characterize the formation of air pollution, optimize air quality management, and protect human health. Future directions for advancing monitoring and modeling/predicting air pollution are also discussed.

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Matthew H. Hitchman, John C. Gille, Clive D. Rodgers, and Guy Brasseur

Abstract

An examination of satellite-derived temperatures reveals that the winter polar stratopause is usually elevated and warmer than the adjacent midlatitude stratopause. This “separated stratopause” occurs in both hemispheres, but is more pronounced and persistent in the southern winter. It descends with time towards spring and exhibits week to week variability. Observational diagnostics and results from a two dimensional (2-D) model suggest that gravity wave driving can account for this separated polar stratopause by driving a meridional circulation with downwelling over the winter pole. In the model, the solar heating pattern induces stronger winter westerlies than summer easterlies, which leads to a stronger gravity wave driven circulation in the winter hemisphere. Spherical geometry and the high latitude location of the winter westerly jet combine to yield a concentrated region of downwelling. Model results suggest that descent of the temperature maximum with time is probably caused by wave–mean flow interaction.

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Cheng Liu, Meng Gao, Qihou Hu, Guy P. Brasseur, and Gregory R. Carmichael

Abstract

Monitoring and modeling/predicting air pollution are crucial to understanding the links between emissions and air pollution levels, to supporting air quality management, and to reducing human exposure. Yet, current monitoring networks and modeling capabilities are unfortunately inadequate to understand the physical and chemical processes above ground, and to support attribution of sources. We highlight the need for the development of an international stereoscopic monitoring strategy that can depict three-dimensional (3D) distribution of atmospheric composition to reduce the uncertainties, and to advance diagnostic understanding and prediction of air pollution. There are three reasons for the implementation of stereoscopic monitoring: (1) current observation networks provide only partial view of air pollution, and this can lead to misleading air quality management actions; (2) satellite retrievals of air pollutants are widely used in air pollution studies, but too often users do not acknowledge that they have large uncertainties, which can be reduced with measurements of vertical profiles; (3) air quality modeling and forecasting require 3D observational constraints. We call on researchers and policymakers to establish stereoscopic monitoring networks and share monitoring data to better characterize the formation of air pollution, optimize air quality management and protect human health. Future directions for advancing monitoring and modeling/predicting air pollution are also discussed.

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KRISTA K. LAURSEN, DAVID P. JORGENSEN, GUY P. BRASSEUR, SUSAN L. USTIN, and JAMES R. HUNING

The development of the High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER) will make possible a wealth of new geophysical research opportunities in the areas of atmospheric chemistry, climate forcing, weather system structure and evolution, the carbon and water vapor cycles, and ecosystem processes. In this paper, we present a brief background on the history of the HIAPER project and discuss the modifications made to the basic aircraft [a Gulfstream V (GV) business jet] and the infrastructure systems installed to transform it into an environmental research platform. General aircraft performance capabilities that make the GV uniquely suited for high-altitude, long-range studies of geophysical phenomena are also discussed. The conduct of research with HIAPER will require that suitable instrumentation payloads are available for use on the aircraft, and the processes followed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) for the development of an initial platform instrumentation suite to meet critical measurements needs are described. HIAPERs unique configuration and capabilities will make it an effective tool for the conduct of weather and water cycle research, the study of atmospheric chemistry and climate forcing, and the monitoring of biosphere structure and productivity, as we shall discuss. We conclude with an overview of the objectives of the initial HIAPER flight-testing program and the process whereby this new research platform will be made available to members of the scientific community for the support of environmental research.

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Xiang Xiao, Yangyang Xu, Xiaorui Zhang, Fan Wang, Xiao Lu, Zongwei Cai, Guy Brasseur, and Meng Gao

Abstract

Climate change and air pollution are two intimately interlinked global concerns. The frequency, intensity, and duration of heat waves are projected to increase globally under future climate change. A growing body of evidence indicates that health risks associated with the joint exposure to heat waves and air pollution can be greater than that due to individual factors. However, the cooccurrences of heat and air pollution extremes in China remain less explored in the observational records. Here we investigate the spatial pattern and temporal trend of frequency, intensity, and duration of cooccurrences of heat and air pollution extremes using China’s nationwide observations of hourly PM2.5 and O3, and the ERA5 reanalysis dataset over 2013–20. We identify a significant increase in the frequency of cooccurrence of wet-bulb temperature (Tw) and O3 exceedances (beyond a certain predefined threshold), mainly in the Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei (BTH) region (up by 4.7 days decade−1) and the Yangtze River delta (YRD). In addition, we find that the increasing rate (compared to the average levels during the study period) of joint exceedance is larger than the rate of Tw and O3 itself. For example, Tw and O3 coextremes increased by 7.0% in BTH, higher than the percentage increase of each at 0.9% and 5.5%, respectively. We identify same amplification for YRD. This ongoing upward trend in the joint occurrence of heat and O3 extremes should be recognized as an emerging environmental issue in China, given the potentially larger compounding impact to public health.

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Guy P. Brasseur, Martin Schultz, Claire Granier, Marielle Saunois, Thomas Diehl, Michael Botzet, Erich Roeckner, and Stacy Walters

Abstract

A global chemical transport model of the atmosphere [the Model for Ozone and Related Tracers, version 2 (MOZART-2)] driven by prescribed surface emissions and by meteorological fields provided by the ECHAM5/Max Planck Institute Ocean Model (MPI-OM-1) coupled atmosphere–ocean model is used to assess how expected climate changes (2100 versus 2000 periods) should affect the chemical composition of the troposphere. Calculations suggest that ozone changes resulting from climate change only are negative in a large fraction of the troposphere because of enhanced photochemical destruction by water vapor. In the Tropics, increased lightning activity should lead to larger ozone concentrations. The magnitude of the climate-induced ozone changes in the troposphere remains smaller than the changes produced by enhanced anthropogenic emissions when the Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) A2P is adopted to describe the future evolution of these emissions. Predictions depend strongly on future trends in atmospheric methane levels, which are not well established. Changes in the emissions of NOx by bacteria in soils and of nonmethane hydrocarbons by vegetation associated with climate change could have a significant impact on future ozone levels.

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Carlos Nobre, Guy P. Brasseur, Melvyn A. Shapiro, Myanna Lahsen, Gilbert Brunet, Antonio J. Busalacchi, Kathy Hibbard, Sybil Seitzinger, Kevin Noone, and Jean P. Ometto

This paper discusses the development of a prediction system that integrates physical, biogeochemical, and societal processes in a unified Earth system framework. Such development requires collaborations among physical and social scientists, and should include i) the development of global Earth system analysis and prediction models that account for physical, chemical, and biological processes in a coupled atmosphere–ocean–land–ice system; ii) the development of a systematic framework that links the global climate and regionally constrained weather systems and the interactions and associated feedbacks with biogeochemistry, biology, and socioeconomic drivers (e.g., demography, global policy constraints, technological innovations) across scales and disciplines; and iii) the exploration and development of methodologies and models that account for societal drivers (e.g., governance, institutional dynamics) and their impacts and feedbacks on environmental and climate systems.

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Mark P. Baldwin, Thomas Birner, Guy Brasseur, John Burrows, Neal Butchart, Rolando Garcia, Marvin Geller, Lesley Gray, Kevin Hamilton, Nili Harnik, Michaela I. Hegglin, Ulrike Langematz, Alan Robock, Kaoru Sato, and Adam A. Scaife

Abstract

The stratosphere contains ~17% of Earth’s atmospheric mass, but its existence was unknown until 1902. In the following decades our knowledge grew gradually as more observations of the stratosphere were made. In 1913 the ozone layer, which protects life from harmful ultraviolet radiation, was discovered. From ozone and water vapor observations, a first basic idea of a stratospheric general circulation was put forward. Since the 1950s our knowledge of the stratosphere and mesosphere has expanded rapidly, and the importance of this region in the climate system has become clear. With more observations, several new stratospheric phenomena have been discovered: the quasi-biennial oscillation, sudden stratospheric warmings, the Southern Hemisphere ozone hole, and surface weather impacts of stratospheric variability. None of these phenomena were anticipated by theory. Advances in theory have more often than not been prompted by unexplained phenomena seen in new stratospheric observations. From the 1960s onward, the importance of dynamical processes and the coupled stratosphere–troposphere circulation was realized. Since approximately 2000, better representations of the stratosphere—and even the mesosphere—have been included in climate and weather forecasting models. We now know that in order to produce accurate seasonal weather forecasts, and to predict long-term changes in climate and the future evolution of the ozone layer, models with a well-resolved stratosphere with realistic dynamics and chemistry are necessary.

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