The aviation industry is a source of anthropogenic emissions that can have significant local and global effects. These effects include not only a detrimental impact on climate, but also a degradation of air quality. While aircraft technology has advanced such that emissions for comparable aircraft and missions have decreased significantly in the past decades, growth in aviation means that for some pollutants – such as NOx and CO2 – aviation emissions continue to grow.

Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment emissions research

The lab’s emissions research aims to improve understanding of aircraft emissions and their uncertainty, and to produce emissions inventories that can be used in other research. The lab has also produced emissions inventories for other sectors.

Emissions inventories are the starting point for much of the lab’s research. These inventories consist of spatially and temporally resolved emissions data for the entire globe, which are used as inputs to climate and air quality models. Subsequent analysis yields the effects of these emissions. Changes from the baseline emissions inventory due to new technology, proposed policies, new fuels, or operational changes can then be assessed.

Much Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment research deals with emissions inventories that are generated using high fidelity modeling tools, such as the FAA’s Aviation Environmental Design Tool (AEDT). Such tools offer  detailed flight-by-flight modeling, but can be computationally intensive. We are developing a rapid surrogate model that simplifies the simulations so they run quickly, yet still capture global changes accurately. With such a tool, analyses such as uncertainty and sensitivity quantification that were previously computationally prohibitive are now possible.

Recent archival publications on ‘Emissions’