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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 :










NextSim General Assembly and TC meeting

CERFACS |  16 September 2021

The General Assembly and TC Meeting took place on 15-16 September 2021. CERFACS is involved in the NextSim project (). The primary objective is to increase the capabilities of Computational Fluid Dynamics tools on extreme-scale parallel computing platforms for aeronautical design. This project has received funding from the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement N° 956104. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and Spain, France, Germany. This project has received funding from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) under grant agreement N° ANR-20-EHPC-0002-02. For more information, please visit Read more

Sophie Valcke from Cerfacs co-authored a new book on atmosphere-ocean modelling

CERFACS |  18 August 2021

new book "Atmosphere-Ocean Modelling - Couling and Couplers” by Prof. Carlos R Mechoso, Prof. Soon-Il An and Dr Sophie Valcke has just been published by World Scientific. The present book fills a void in the current literature by presenting a basic and yet rigorous treatment of how the models of the atmosphere and the ocean are put together into a coupled system. Details are available at  Abstract: Coupled atmosphere-ocean models are at the core of numerical climate models. There is an extraordinarily broad class of coupled atmosphere-ocean models ranging from sets of equations that can be solved analytically to highly detailed representations of Nature requiring the most advanced computers for execution. The models are applied to subjects including the conceptual understanding of Earth’s climate, predictions that support human activities in a variable climate, and projections aimed to prepare society for climate change. The present book fills a void in the current literature by presenting a basic and yet rigorous treatment of how the models of the atmosphere and the ocean are put together into a coupled system. The text of the book is divided into chapters organized according to complexity of the components that are coupled. Two full chapters are dedicated to current efforts on the development of generalist couplers and coupling methodologies all over the worldRead more