Future Year Air Quality Change Due to Growth in Aircraft Emissions and Changes in Climate

  • Saravanan ArunachalamEmail author
  • Matthew Woody
  • Jared H. Bowden
  • Mohammad Omary
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Complexity book series (SPCOM)


Increased growth in aviation activity in the future is projected to show increased emissions from this sector, and hence approximately proportional increases in concentrations if other factors were unchanging. However, emissions from other anthropogenic sources are generally expected to decrease due to several projected emissions control measures, and changes in climate will also occur. In this study, we evaluated air quality changes due to growth in aviation activities from 2005 to 2025, focusing on 99 major U.S. airports with aircraft activity data during landing and takeoff (LTO) activity developed for a growth scenario in 2025. We also assessed changes in climate based upon IPCC RCP 4.5 projections scenario, and used dynamically downscaled meteorology from the Climate Earth System Model (CESM) to WRF over the continental U.S. We performed six annual simulations at 36-km resolution using the WRF-SMOKE-CMAQ modeling system for 2005 and 2025, with and without aircraft emissions, and with and without changes in future year climate from CESM/WRF. We focused on assessing the incremental changes in O3, NO2 and PM2.5 due to changes in emissions (due to aircraft and non-aviation sources) and meteorology. We see a net increase in annual average PM2.5 due to aviation increase from a factor of 5.5 (2025 vs. 2005) without incorporating change in climate to 5.9 with change in climate. Similarly, the changes in summer season average of daily maximum 8-h O3 due to aviation changes from a factor of 3.1–3.3 with change in climate. Both these changes translate to about a ∼7 % additional increase in the future year that we attribute as the “climate penalty” factor. Detailed analyses of the O3 changes show that the effect of change in climate is more pronounced at higher end of concentrations, where the grid-cells with values exceeding the U.S. NAAQS of 75 ppb see a 60 % increase due to change in climate. The changes in 1-h NO2 due to aircraft increase by a factor of ∼2 in 2025 vs. 2005, with increases around major airports being as high as a factor of 6.


Dynamical Downscaling Climate Change Signal Federal Aviation Administration Major Airport Aircraft Emission 
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This work was funded under the Partnership for Air Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction (PARTNER) grants 09-CE-NE-UNC Amendments 001–005. PARTNER is funded by FAA, NASA, Transport Canada, U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. EPA. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of PARTNER and its sponsors. We acknowledge CSSI, Inc. for providing the aircraft emissions from EDMS for this work, and to Christopher Sequeira and Mohan Gupta of the FAA for helpful discussions.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Saravanan Arunachalam
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matthew Woody
    • 1
  • Jared H. Bowden
    • 1
  • Mohammad Omary
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for the EnvironmentUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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