The passive transport of NO(x) emissions from aircraft studied with a hierarchy of models

Peter F.J. Van Velthoven*, Robert Sausen, Colin E. Johnson, Hennie Kelder, Ines Köhler, Annette B. Kraus, Radiela Ramaroson, Franz Rohrer, David Stevenson, Asbjørn Strand, Wiel M.F. Wauben

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The passive transport of aircraft emissions of nitrogen oxides (NO(x) = NO + NO2) has been studied with a hierarchy of models ranging from two-dimensional and three-dimensional chemistry transport models up to three-dimensional models of the general circulation. The sink of NO(x) was parameterized by an exponential decay process with a globally constant half-lifetime of 10 days. By performing a simple experiment the importance of the various transport processes has been studied. The three-dimensional models show that the monthly mean volume mixing ratio of NO(x) varies by a factor of three in the longitudinal direction and the temporal variability is of the order of 30%. In view of the nonlinearity of the chemical processes leading to ozone formation in the presence of NO(x) this implies that the assessment of the effects of subsonic aircraft emissions of NO(x) should be done with three-dimensional models. Vertical redistribution by convection strongly affects the maximum NO(x) mixing ratio at cruise altitudes, but due to the limited lifetime of NO(x) of the order of ten days the most important contribution to the mixing ratio at a certain level usually stems from emissions around that level. The strong static stability in the stratosphere hampers significant dispersion of the subsonic aircraft emissions above the height where the emissions take place for the lifetimes considered here. Some model deficiencies and biases have been identified and discussed. Examples are the oscillatory signature of NO(x) distributions obtained with a spectral advection scheme, the strong diffusion of one of the GCMs into the polar regions, and the too intense interhemispheric exchange of one of the two-dimensional CTMs. For the vertical redistribution of the emissions it may be necessary to include not only updrafts but also downdrafts in the convective parametrization of the transport model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1783-1799
Number of pages17
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 1997

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Aircraft emissions
  • Models
  • Nitrogen oxides
  • Passive transport


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