Submitted as: model evaluation paper
27 Jun 2023
Submitted as: model evaluation paper |  | 27 Jun 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

The CO2 and non-CO2 climate effects of individual flights: simplified estimation of CO2 equivalent emission factors

Robin N. Thor, Malte Niklaß, Katrin Dahlmann, Florian Linke, Volker Grewe, and Sigrun Matthes

Abstract. As aviation's contribution to anthropogenic climate change is increasing, industry aims at reducing the aviation climate effect. However, the large contribution of non-CO2 effects to the total climate effect of aviation and their large variability for each individual flight inhibit finding appropriate guidance. Here, we present a method for the simplified calculation of CO2 equivalent emissions, expressed using the physical climate metrics ATR100 or AGWP100, from CO2 and non-CO2 effects for a given flight, exclusively based on the aircraft seat category as well as the origin and destination airports. The simplified calculation method estimates non-CO2 climate effects of air traffic as precisely as possible, without detailed information on the actual flight route, actual fuel burn, and current weather situation. For this purpose, we evaluate a global data set containing detailed flight trajectories, flight emissions, and climate responses, and derive a set of regression formulas for climate effects, which we call climate effect functions, as well as regression formulas for fuel consumption and NOx emissions. Compared to previous studies, this method is available for a larger number of aircraft types, including most commercial airliners with seat capacities starting from 101 passengers, and delivers more specific results through a clustering approach. The climate effects calculated using the climate effect functions derived in this study exhibit a mean absolute relative error of 15.0 % and a root mean square error of 1.24 nK with respect to results from the climate response model AirClim. The climate effect functions are designed for climate footprint assessments, but would not create an incentive in an emission trading system, for which detailed information on the current weather as well as the actual flight route and profile would be required.

Robin N. Thor et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Review of Thor et al.', Anonymous Referee #1, 25 Aug 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on gmd-2023-126', William Collins, 31 Aug 2023
  • EC1: 'Comment on gmd-2023-126', Sophie Valcke, 25 Sep 2023

Robin N. Thor et al.

Robin N. Thor et al.


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Short summary
We develop a simplied method to estimate the climate effects of single flights through CO2 and non-CO2 effects, exclusively based on the aircraft seat category as well as the origin and destination airports. The derived climate effect functions exhibit a mean relative error of only 15 % with respect to results from a climate response model. The method is designed for climate footprint assessments and covers most commerical airlines with seat capacities starting from 101 passengers.