Cerfacs Enter the world of high performance ...

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 :










Continuity of activity of the Cerfacs during the Covid-19 pandemic

superadmin |  20 March 2020

On Monday 16 March 2020, in the context of the rapidly evolving COVID-19 epidemic, Cerfacs decided to reorganize its activities by implementing a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and deploying teleworking facilities for all its employees. All staff members thus continue to carry out their full mission.Read more

A fiery wakeup call for climate science

superadmin |  26 February 2020

The extent of the recent wildfires in Australia significantly exceeded the projections of any member of the multi-model CMIP archive.  This highlights how current multi-model ensembles may be under-representing the risks of natural disasters under climate change.  Limited coupled system process representation in most models coupled with a lack of parameter uncertainty exploration means that some risks are not explored by the existing international multi-model framework.  This calls for a reassessment of how to focus climate model development on providing robust risk quantification for those impacts which most directly affect society. Sanderson, B.M., Fisher, R.A. A fiery wake-up call for climate science. Nat. Clim. Chang. (2020) nature.com Media coverage BBC Sydney Morning Herald The Guardian Wired The Daily Express YahooRead more