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Project title:

AERO2K: Global Aircraft Emissions data project for climate change impacts evaluation

Principal investigators:

Professor Dave Raper / Dr Delia Dimitriu 


CAA – Civil Aviation Authority


04/2001 – 08/2004



Global inventories of aircraft fuel usage and emissions are required for the quantification of the atmospheric effects of aviation. For climate impact assessments, input data for individual emissions such as nitrogen oxides (NOx: NOx = NO2 + NO) need to be placed on a global grid. The fundamental components of an emission inventory are a description of the ‘activity’ and a parameterisation of the emissions. In the case of an aircraft emissions inventory, the routes and the frequency of specific aircraft need to be known, in terms of the ‘activity’ statistics.

The EC 5th Framework Programme project ‘AERO2k’ has developed a new and improved global inventory of aviation fuel usage and emissions, building on previous inventories which are now approximately ten years out of date. Moreover, additional parameters (e.g. particle emissions and km travelled/grid cell) are now needed for the climate modelling community in addition to the previously provided gas phase species of carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HCs) and NOx.

To provide new aviation emissions data on a global gridded basis, AERO2k has taken the best available civil and military flight information for the year 2002. For civil aviation, this includes radar tracked and flight plan data from North America and Europe showing actual latitude, longitude and altitude along the flight path. Routing information is used to place timetabled flights from the rest of the world onto a global grid. Using 40 representative aircraft, fuel used for each flight is calculated using performance data from the PIANO aircraft performance model . Employing the latest publicly available information on emissions factors, emissions are calculated based on aircraft height, weight and speed, throughout the flight. New information on particulate emissions (soot) has been added to provide a first gridded estimate of these emissions from civil aviation. Calculated emissions from all flights are then allocated into one of 6.5 million individual cells on a global 3D grid, representing the latitude, longitude and altitude of the flight segment. To assist with contrail and cirrus impact assessment, the distance flown in each cell is also recorded.

In addition to these 2002 data, a forecast has been generated for 2025. Aviation traffic growth, fleet rollover and technology improvement factors, estimated by the UK DTI and Airbus, has been applied to the 2002 results to provide the forecast emissions for 2025. These 2025 results are presented in gridded form in a similar manner to the 2002 results.

The output from AERO2k comprises an aviation emissions inventory for 2002 and an emissions forecast for 2025, output that takes the form of global gridded data (1 deg x 1 deg x 500ft cells) of fuel used, emissions and distance flown in each cell.

In addition, reports are provided detailing the methodologies used to generate the gridded data. These reports highlight key results in terms of total global and regional emissions.



Image used under Creative Commons from Ian Britton