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Aviation and environment

Air transport and the greenhouse effect

Atmospheric composition is the result of natural and anthropogenic emissions combined with transport and chemical processes. Aircraft emissions can have an impact on atmospheric chemistry and on its radiative balance. For example, contrails formed from emissions of water vapour and soot particules can lead to the formation of cirrus clouds.

Emissions of nitrogen oxides perturb the natural cycles and open the way to ozone production or destruction depending on local altitude and insolation. These ozone perturbations along with the CO2 emissions, water vapour, sulphur and soot particles allow additional clouds to form and may increase the greenhouse effect. The same local perturbations are observed when a spacecraft is launched.

In this field of research, CERFACS focuses on the time-evolution of the atmospheric chemical composition and on the anthropogenic impact, especially on the effect of the chemical and particulate emissions from aviation. The AE team has developed a scientific expertise on the modelling of the effluents and their transformation in the different phases that follow the lanch of a spacecraft, in particular the transition to the “hot” chemistry located at the nozzle outlet and the “cold” chemistry for the high atmosphere.

Evaluate the impact of antropogenic emissions

In that context, the monitoring of atmospheric composition is of particular importance. The objective is to detect and possibly attribute the observed changes to natural or anthropogenic forcing. The AT team is involved in national and European projects centered on the development and the implementation of data assimilation systems, gas for trace gases and particles central to atmospheric chemistry.

The AE team is composed of about ten researchers who work closely on the national level with CERFACS associated laboratories like CNRM, ONERA teams, CNRS and aeronautical industry. The team is also involved in numerous projects, especially European projects that include the main institutions present in the atmospheric environment field.

Main partners : CNRM, CEPMMT, DLR, Latmos, LISA, LSCE, Onera

CERFACS challenge : Modest

National and international current projects :

IMPACT : climate impact of the evolution of air traffic

MACC : Data assimilation of minor constituents for the atmophere monitoring

TC2 : contrails and climate


Project director : Daniel CARIOLLE

Senior researchers :

Emanuele EMILI

Roberto PAOLI


Post-docs :


Géraldine REA

Bojan SIC

Consultants :


Philippe MOINAT

PhD :

Hélène PEIRO

Visitors :










CERFACS scientist named in 2019 Clarivate ‘Highly Cited Researchers’ list

superadmin |  25 November 2019

Dr. Rosie Fisher, a researcher at CERFACS working on land surface modeling and terrestrial ecosystem dynamics, was named in the 2019 Web of Science "Highly Cited Researchers" list, which recognizes influential researchers of the past decade, as demonstrated by the authorship of highly-cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations. Dr Fisher has been working in the Global Change group (GLOBC) at CERFACS since 2018 as part of a collaboration with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, where she was formerly a staff scientist.Read more

Sparse Days 2020

Brigitte Yzel |  25 November 2019

Sparse Days Meeting 2020 at Cerfacs, Toulouse June 11th-12th, 2020     The annual Sparse Days meeting will be held at CERFACS in Toulouse on 11th and 12th June 2020.  Registration for the Sparse Days is free but we ask people who are coming to register as soon as possible although the deadline is May 10th. Please register using the registration form. Although an emphasis will be on parallel aspects, any talk that has an association with sparsity is welcome. The length for a talk plus questions is 30 minutes although this is negotiable in either direction. Information on accommodation can be found on the web page.Read more